Dick’s Sporting Goods’ decision to halt sales of AR-15s is not as big a deal as it sounds

DCNFWill Racke, DCNF

Dick’s Sporting Goods, the country’s biggest sports equipment retailer, announced Wednesday that it would no longer sell AR-15 style rifles like the one used in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Gun control activists hailed the move as the latest example of a major U.S. company distancing itself from the controversial firearm, which they say is the weapon of choice for mass shooters.

Dick’s CEO Edward Stack told CNN that he and other executives at the company were influenced by Parkland shooting survivors’ push for new gun control laws, including restrictions on who can buy AR-15 rifles.

“As we sat and talked about it with our management team, it was — to a person — that this is what we need to do,” he said Wednesday. “These kids talk about enough is enough. We concluded if these kids are brave enough to organize and do what they’re doing, we should be brave enough to take this stand.”

But the decision might not be as courageous as Dick’s executives have portrayed it to be. That’s because the company has not sold AR-15 style rifles at its main stores since 2012, when it removed the guns from the shelves of its Dick’s-branded locations.

Instead, Dick’s had only been selling the rifles at its chain of Field & Stream stores, a much smaller subsidiary that specializes in hunting, fishing and camping gear. While Dick’s operates more than 600 main store locations across the U.S., there are only 35 Field & Stream retail locations.

Dick’s acknowledged as much in a statement posted to the company’s Facebook page:

“We will no longer sell assault-style rifles, also referred to as modern sporting rifles,” the company said. “We had already removed them from all DICK’S stores after the Sandy Hook massacre, but we will now remove them from sale at all 35 Field & Stream stores.”

The statement also acknowledged that Parkland shooter Nicholas Cruz had purchased a gun from a Dick’s store, though not the one he used in the massacre. Still, the company worried that “it could have been” the case.

In an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday, Stack said the company supports gun rights but wants to reduce the chances that a guns old in its stores would be used in a mass shooting.

“We’re staunch supporters of the Second Amendment — I’m a gun owner myself,” he said. “We don’t want to be a part of this story, and we have eliminated these guns permanently.”

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