What do you think about stores like Target and Home Depot allowing customers to openly carry guns?
Here’s a little background for those who are unfamiliar with the controversy regarding Target and Home Depot and their “open carry” guns policy.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a national mom’s group that “advocates strong gun regulation,” persuaded Starbucks, Chipotle, Jack in the Box, Sonic Brands, and Dallas-based Brinker International (which owns Chili’s) to ask its customers not to openly carry their rifles into their restaurants. They next focused on Target stores after the group Open Carry Texas (which says that it is an “organization dedicated to the safe and legal carry of firearms openly in the State of Texas in accordance with the United Stats and Texas Constitutions and applicable laws”) staged several demonstrations to promote its agenda. Demonstrations also occurred at Target stores in Alabama, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin, and Virginia.
Two weeks ago, about 150 “Open Carry” supporters gathered at a Home Depot parking lot in North Richland Hills—a Ft. Worth, Texas, suburb—to push their beliefs in the Second Amendment. Home Depot corporate spokesman Stephen Holmes told The Dallas Morning News that “while The Home Depot allows customers to carry legally permitted weapons into its stores, we do not allow solicitation or organizing by third parties on our property.”
In criticizing Open Carry Texas’ campaign, the NRA said, “Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners.” The NRA has finally said something with which I can agree.
Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said, “Target does not sell firearms or ammunition and, as it relates to this issue, we follow all state and federal laws.” However, Snyder would not respond when “asked if Target would request customers not bring guns into its stores.” “Gun extremists have been using Target stores to promote their agenda of intimidation,” Moms said. “American moms,” they said, “will not shop where our children and families—including our teens who work at Target—are not safe.”
What do I think about this? I have been to Target just twice since they announced in December 2013 that the credit and debit card information of as many as 40 million customers was compromised between November 27 and December 15, the busiest weeks of the Christmas shopping season. Target would later announce a few weeks later that “an additional trove of personal information—like email and mailing addresses—from some 70 million people had been exposed as well.” While twice I was willing to give Target another chance after their data breach, their decision not to prohibit the open carrying of rifles into their stores means that I will treat Target like I do Walmart—it will be a store that will never get my business.
While I’m not so naïve as to assume that people are not carrying weapons (concealed or not) when I go into other stores, too many people with mental health and/or anger issues are carrying weapons and putting all of us in danger. And, to the NRA who says that a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun: it’s getting more and more difficult to distinguish between the good guys with a gun and the bad guys with a gun. This sad reality came to light this past Sunday. In Las Vegas, a couple who were bent on “starting a revolution” murdered two police officers who were eating lunch at Cici’s pizza, and then walked into a Walmart where they shot someone standing by the front door. This couple then committed suicide in what police are saying was a suicide pact.
The Las Vegas ambush precedes the shooting of two priests at the Mother of Mercy Mission Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona, in which one priest was killed and another left in extremely critical condition; a shooting at a high school outside of Portland, Oregon, in which a 15-year-old student and the gunmen were killed; a shooting at Seattle Pacific University in which a student was killed and two others were wounded; and Elliot Rodger’s mass murder of six innocent people (three were stabbed) in Santa Barbara, California. Few of us can forget what happened on December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, where Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and 6 staff members before killing himself. There have been some 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook.
I could continue to list all of the incidents of gun violence in this country just in the last year, but that list would, unfortunately, get tiresome and repetitive.
Though fewer than 12 people die during a mass shooting, that is just a fraction of the 32,000 Americans who are killed by firearms. The fact is that in the United States some 33 people are killed every day by a gun, and of those 33, 7 are children. Some 33 people are dead because of a gun: Every. Single. Day. And, most of these shooters obtained their weapons legally. We have a gun problem in this county, and putting more guns into the hands of the “good guys” will not solve this bloodshed.
Immediately after learning that his son Christopher was one of the victims of Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree, father Richard Martinez chastised “craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA” for this latest gun tragedy. “They talk about our rights,” Martinez said. “What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness!’ Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘Not one more!’”
The fact is that some people’s unhealthy obsession with guns and what they regard as their “right to openly carry” is quickly getting out of control.
I can’t stop the leaders at Target, Walmart, and other stores from prohibiting customers who want to openly carry their weapons, but I can choose not to spend my dollars at their stores. Though I don’t pretend to have the answers for what will end the murders of innocent Americans by people legally and illegally carrying guns, arming more people is hardly a viable solution. However, passing sensible gun control laws, requiring more stringent background checks, and shoring up this country’s mental health system are good places to start.