Dick’s to End Sales of Assault-Style Rifles After Parkland

(Bloomberg) -- Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., the biggest sporting-goods retailer in the U.S., is immediately ending sales of assault-style rifles following the mass shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month that killed 17 people.

Dick’s is expanding its assault-rifle ban to its 35 Field & Stream stores, after removing the weapons from its flagship stores following the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. The company is also ending sales of firearms to anyone under the age of 21 and will no longer sell high-capacity magazines.

“We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognize and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens,” Chief Executive Officer Edward Stack said in a statement on the company’s website. “But we have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America -- our kids.”

The gun industry has come under intense scrutiny since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14. Companies that offer discounts to National Rifle Association members, including Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc., have cut ties to the lobbying group after calls for a boycott proliferated on social media.

Following Walmart

Walmart Inc., the world’s largest retailer, decided to stop selling military-style weapons such as the AR-15 in 2015. The company said at the time that it was a business decision, since sales have declined, and wasn’t politically motivated. Still, the decision by large chains to abandon assault-style rifles has increasingly turned them into the domain of mom-and-pop sellers and gun shows.

Dick’s will “never” reverse the decision and is ready for any backlash it may face, Stack said in an interview on Good Morning America. He also urged Congress to act, and his letter called for bans on assault-style firearms, high capacity magazines, bump stocks, a higher minimum age requirement and universal background checks.

The financial implications of the decision remain to be seen. Since Dick’s had already removed assault-style rifles from most of its stores, the gesture is largely symbolic. Still, the company joins a growing number of large U.S. corporations willing to take a stand on guns.

Dick’s investors were unfazed by the decision, sending its shares up as much as 2.2 percent to $32.49 in New York trading.

Gun stocks, meanwhile, declined. Sturm Ruger & Co. fell as much as 3.7 percent, dropping for a third straight day. American Outdoor Brands Corp. fell as much as 3 percent, while Vista Outdoor Inc. slipped 2 percent.

Nikolas Cruz, the perpetrator in the Florida shooting, purchased a shotgun at a Dick’s store in November 2017. That wasn’t the gun used in the attack this month, “but it could have been,” CEO Stack said in his letter.

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