In the ongoing battle between mothers and open-carry activists who want to tote assault rifles in the baby product aisle, it looks like Target is listening to its core shopping demographic: women. In a statement released Wednesday on its blog, the big-box retailer asked firearm aficionados to leave their weapons outside.
“Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so,” wrote John Mulligan, Target’s interim CEO. “But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target—even in communities where it is permitted by law.”
Although Mulligan acknowledged that the debate over open carry is nuanced and “complicated,” his statement makes the company’s values clear. “Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create,” he wrote.
With the announcement, Target joins other companies, including Chipotle, Starbucks, Chili’s, Jack in the Box, and Sonic, that have asked customers not to bring weapons into their stores. Like those other businesses, Target was subject to pressure from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots organization founded in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in 2012.
Target’s announcement comes exactly one month after the moms launched a petition asking that the retailer create a gun-sense policy banning visible weapons in stores. Nearly 400,000 people signed it.
“This huge change made by one of our country’s largest and leading retailers is proof that when women and mothers collectively use our voices and votes, we will change the culture of gun violence in America,” the group wrote of Target’s decision on its Facebook page.
But customers aren’t so sure how Target is going to enforce the new policy.
“Nice request, but when they show up carrying today, in droves, to protest your decision, what are you going to do?” one customer, Rebecca Caffrey, asked in a comment on Mulligan’s post. “Will you ask them nicely to leave (they won’t), or will you have them removed from your private property?”
At least one shopper plans to see for himself what his local store will do when he enters with a weapon. “This is just to shut up the anti gunners,” commented Kory Watkins. “Going back to Target with my gun today and tomorrow and whatever days I want.”