Fourteen high school students and three educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were killed on February 14 after a 19-year-old former student entered the Parkland, Florida school with a semi-automatic weapon and opened fire.
Following the shooting, as The New York Times reports, Parkland students and parents began pressuring Congress to push for laws that would prevent another school shooting from ever happening again.
And Dick's Sporting Good has been listening. Their CEO, Edward W Stack, said to Good Morning America:
“When we take a look at what those kids and the parents and the heroes in the school, what they did, our view was if the kids can be brave enough to organize like this, we can be brave enough to take [guns] out of here.”
On February 28, Dick's Sporting Goods released a statement regarding its new policies. Stores will no longer sell assault-style rifles and that it will no longer sell guns to people younger than 21. The statement reads:
We at DICK’S Sporting Goods are deeply disturbed and saddened by the tragic events in Parkland. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones.
But thoughts and prayers are not enough.
We have tremendous respect and admiration for the students organizing and making their voices heard regarding gun violence in schools and elsewhere in our country.
We have heard you. The nation has heard you.
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. 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.
Following all of the rules and laws, we sold a shotgun to the Parkland shooter in November of 2017. It was not the gun, nor type of gun, he used in the shooting. But it could have been.
Clearly this indicates on so many levels that the systems in place are not effective to protect our kids and our citizens.
We believe it’s time to do something about it.
Beginning today, DICK’S Sporting Goods is committed to the following:
We will no longer sell assault-style rifles, also referred to as modern sporting rifles. 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.
We will no longer sell firearms to anyone under 21 years of age.
We will no longer sell high capacity magazines.
We never have and never will sell bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.
At the same time, we implore our elected officials to enact common sense gun reform and pass the following regulations:
Ban assault-style firearms
Raise the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21
Ban high capacity magazines and bump stocks
Require universal background checks that include relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law
Ensure a complete universal database of those banned from buying firearms
Close the private sale and gun show loophole that waives the necessity of background checks
We hope others join us in this effort to let our kids know that their pleas are being taken seriously.
Some will say these steps can’t guarantee tragedies like Parkland will never happen again. They may be correct – but if common sense reform is enacted and even one life is saved, it will have been worth it.
We deeply believe that this country’s most precious gift is our children. They are our future. We must keep them safe.
Stack told Good Morning America that although they have followed all of the current laws put on the sale of firearms, it's clear that those regulations are not enough to prevent a person like the teen who killed 17 innocent people from buying a gun.
He said the gunman purchased a gun from a Dick's store months before the shooting. However, it was not the gun used during the massacre.
“To think about the loss and the grief that those kids and those parents had, we said, ‘We need to do something,' and we’re taking these guns out of all of our stores permanently. [...] We did everything by the book. We did everything that the law required and still he was able to buy a gun. When we looked at that, we said, ‘The systems that are in place across the board just aren’t effective enough to keep us from selling someone a gun like that.’”
Stack told GMA that the store's ban on assault-style rifles will “never” be lifted, adding that even though the decision won't make everyone happy, it's what needs to be done:
“We’re staunch supporters of the 2nd Amendment. I’m a gun owner myself. We’ve just decided that based on what’s happened with these guns, we don’t want to be a part of this story and we’ve eliminated these guns permanently.”
The CEO hopes that Congress can come together on the issue.