Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America launched a national campaign today calling on Michael Ellis, President and Chief Operating Officer, and Mr. W. Rodney McMullen, Chief Executive Officer, of the Kroger Family of Stores to prohibit the open carry of guns in its supermarkets in response to incidences of gun violence in and around stores, as well as open carry demonstrations organized by gun extremist groups that brought gunmen with loaded assault weapons into stores (photos here). The Moms Demand Action campaign, which includes a petition to Kroger (available here), follows similar actions aimed at Target, Chipotle, Sonic, Chili’s and Jack in the Box that led these companies to take swift action to stand with Moms and enforce or adopt policies that prohibit open carry to protect the safety of their employees and customers.
“The history of shootings at Kroger stores underscores the risk of allowing open carry demonstrations and rallies to continue,” said Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “It’s impossible for any employee to ascertain the intentions of an individual carrying an assault rifle — and given the potentially deadly outcome of mistaking a criminal for a protester, or vice versa, it is imperative that the largest supermarket retailer in the nation stands up for public safety.”
The Kroger family of stores, the second largest retailer in the country and the nation’s largest supermarket retailer, includes Kroger, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, Foods Co, Gerbes Super Markets, Ralphs, Smith’s, Harris Teeter, Jay C Food Stores, Owen’s, Pay Less Supermarkets, City Market, Dillon’s Food Store/Marketplace, Baker’s, King Soopers, QFC and Fry’s Food and Drug.
Gun extremists have been demonstrating at Kroger stores across the country including in Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia to promote their agenda of intimidation (photos here). Despite this, Kroger has not instituted a policy prohibiting open carry. In addition to numerous open carry incidents at several Kroger locations, there have also been at least 16 shootings and threats at stores in Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and other states. In June, a woman shot and killed her husband in the parking lot of a Marietta, GA Kroger before killing herself and in February, a man opened fire in a Lawrenceville, GA store and shot two people after allegedly targeting a store employee. And just last month, a woman threatened to shoot and kill an employee at a Nashville, TN location.
“Kroger is an essential part of American moms’ lives. When we take our kids to the supermarket to buy groceries each week, we expect to be safe and secure,” Watts continued. “We support the Second Amendment and responsible gun ownership, but ignoring incidences of gun violence in and around stores and allowing demonstrators to open carry loaded weapons through the same aisles that our children pick out their favorite cereals is unacceptable. Given how lax the majority of states’ open carry laws are, there is no way for store employees or Kroger’s loyal customers to know whether these gun extremists are good guys or bad guys. That’s why Moms are asking the country’s largest supermarket chain, a store that we visit every week, to follow the lead of Target, Chipotle, Starbucks and many others and make a clear statement that the open carry of firearms is not welcome in its stores.”
In states where no background checks or training are required to buy semi-automatic rifles and carry them openly in public, businesses have a duty to protect their employees and patrons. Laws in a majority of states allow people to openly carry loaded rifles in public with absolutely no training, permitting, or minimum age requirement. Combined with estimates that 40 percent of gun sales occur without a background check in the U.S., this means that people in most states can legally carry loaded rifles in public without ever having passed a criminal background check. Open carry demonstrations at stores in certain states are also causing Kroger to violate state laws. In Texas, a business that is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages is prohibited by state law from allowing individuals to openly carry firearms on the premises, and therefore Kroger could be jeopardizing its licenses there by failing to prevent these demonstrations.
Moms Demand Action previously launched petitions that garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures asking Target, Chipotle, Sonic, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Jack in the Box, Starbucks, Facebook and Instagram to reform the companies’ gun policies to make customers and communities safer. Last month Target asked that its customers not bring their guns into its stores after nearly 400,000 Americans signed the Moms Demand Action petition. In May, Sonic and Brinker International, which includes Chili’s Grill & Bar, released statements prohibiting the open carry of guns in their restaurants. Previously Chipotle quickly responded to a Moms’ petition by asking customers to leave their guns at home, “because the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.” Jack in the Box has also responded to the Moms’ petition by announcing that it would enforce a prohibition of guns in its stores, stating that, “the presence of guns inside a restaurant could create an uncomfortable situation for our guests and employees and lead to unintended consequences.”
Moms Demand Action previously launched petitions that garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures asking Starbucks, Facebook and Instagram to reform the companies’ gun policies to make customers and communities safer. Starbucks announced that guns are no longer welcome in its stores as a result of the campaign. Facebook and Instagram also announced changes to block illegal gun sales after 230,000 Americans signed a Moms Demand Action petition asking for stronger protections against illegal gun sales on the two social media platforms.