The CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the largest firearms retailers in the United States, says the company destroyed a massive trove of assault-style rifles to keep them out of private hands in 2012.
Dick’s chief executive Ed Stack said the AR-15 rifles were scrapped after he halted the retailer’s sale of the weapons in 2012 following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Dick’s stopped buying the weapons from the manufacturer and turned all the AR-15s on its shelves into scrap metal.
“I said: ‘You know what? If we really think these things should be off the street, we need to destroy them,'” he told CBS News in an interview on Sunday.
Stack added that the company lost an estimated US$250 million after it raised the minimum age for firearm sales to 21 last year. He made that decision in the wake of another mass shooting, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
“We found out that we sold this kid a shotgun,” Stack told CBS. “That’s when I said: ‘We’re done.'”
Stack said he and his wife, Donna, have been grappling with the moral burden of selling firearms to potential mass shooters. They met with the Parkland survivors last year and have been looking for ways to sell weapons more responsibly.
Dick’s has stopped selling firearms and ammunition at 125 of its more than 700 stores, and Stack says he’s mulling a chain-wide ban, despite opposition from people who say it won’t stop mass shootings.
“My response is: ‘You’re probably right, it won’t,'” Stack told CBS. “But if we do these things and it saves one life, don’t you think it’s worth it?”
Stack insists he’s not trying to take guns out of the hands of Americans. He’s just trying to be a responsible retailer — and he’s not the only one.
Walmart stopped selling certain types of ammunition and banned customers from openly carrying weapons in its stores last month in the wake of a mass shooting at one of its locations in El Paso, Texas. Walmart stopped selling semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 in 2015.
The National Rifle Association denounced Walmart’s decision in September, calling it “shameful” that the retailer was bowing to “the pressure of the anti-gun elites.”
Stack said he’s faced similar backlash for decisions he’s made at Dick’s.
“We didn’t expect to get what we got,” Stack said. He says he was accused of being against the Second Amendment and the U.S. Constitution.
“None of that could be further from the truth,” he said. “We just didn’t want to sell the assault-style weapons that could inflict that kind of damage.”
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