After more than 300,000 petition signatures and nearly 13,000 phone calls demanding that the nation’s largest supermarket chain stop allowing the open carry of guns in its stores, a new poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group released today shows 64 percent of Kroger shoppers polled believe people should not be able to openly carry guns in Kroger stores. Despite this opposition to Kroger’s policy allowing open carry of firearms — and even though a majority of states allow people to openly carry firearms without a background check, training or permit — Kroger so far has sided with a small group of gun extremists and refused to change its policy.
To personally call on Kroger and its leadership to finally change their dangerous open carry gun policy, tomorrow Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Mary Reed, who was shot alongside Rep. Gabby Giffords in the 2011 Tucson mass shooting on the premise of a Safeway grocery store, will join members of Moms Demand Action from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee in a rally outside Kroger’s investor relations meeting in Cincinnati. In a full page ad running in the Cincinnati Enquirer today, Watts asks Kroger’s President Michael Ellis and CEO W. Rodney McMullen to meet to discuss Kroger’s open carry policy when Ms. Watts is in town, and Moms volunteers will seek to meet with Kroger investors about the company’s open carry policy.
“With a patchwork of lax gun laws and background check loopholes in states across America, Kroger customers have good reason to feel uncomfortable and unsafe when open carry is allowed in a Kroger store,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “It’s true that lawmakers should do more to protect us from gun violence, but Kroger’s leadership should not use politicians’ inaction to justify their own. Kroger must change its policy that forces employees and customers to guess whether an armed individual poses a threat to customers.”
Among the key findings of the poll of Kroger customers in 31 states where open carry is allowed:
- 64 percent of Kroger shoppers think customers should not be allowed to open carry guns in Kroger stores;
- Kroger could lose up to twice as many customers if it allows open carry than if the company prohibits it;
- One in four parents who shop with their kids say they would definitely not shop at Kroger with their children if open carry is allowed;
- More than half of Kroger shoppers polled have guns in their homes; and
- 61 percent of Kroger shoppers who have guns in their home do not believe it would be an infringement on their Second Amendment rights for a store to prevent people from openly carrying a gun in a store.
In addition to the open letter asking for a meeting running in the Cincinnati Enquirer today, Everytown for Gun Safety is also running radio ads that show the inconsistency in Kroger’s position: in recorded phone calls to Kroger stores, employees explain that Kroger prohibits pets and children’s scooters from Kroger stores citing safety concerns, but Kroger allows anyone to open carry loaded guns in its stores (spot one is available online here and the second spot is available online here). The radio ads, created by GREY Advertising, build upon recent billboard, print and digital ads featuring individuals open carrying firearms in the aisles of a supermarket alongside other objects prohibited from most Kroger stores, including food, skateboards and a lack of appropriate attire. The visual ads, which were the first corporate-focused advertising campaign from Moms Demand Action, will be displayed on billboard trucks throughout Cincinnati during tomorrow’s conference.
While Kroger has not yet changed its open carry policy, in recent weeks, New Seasons Market, a chain of more than a dozen grocery stores located in Oregon and Washington, and Panera Bread recently joined other major brands, including Target, Starbucks, Chipotle, Sonic, Jack in the Box, and Chili’s, in asking guests to leave their firearms at home.
“Kroger claims to be a ‘Family of Stores,’ so where are their family values?” asked Watts. “We are asking Kroger leadership directly: Why are you siding with gun extremists, rather than mothers and the majority of Kroger shoppers, who support ending open carry in Kroger stores?”