Target has nicely asked customers to refrain from carrying weapons in their stores. Interim CEO John Mulligan made the decision along with Target's executive leadership team, explaining their stance in a blog post on their website on Wednesday.
The debate has been looming for several weeks, as other national chains, like Chipotle and Starbucks, have banned weapons from their shops too. However, Target has not outright rejected weapons in their stores. They are "respectfully requesting" gun owners do not bring weapons into their shops, "even in communities where it is permitted by law."
Some gun rights activists took this wording as a loophole. Open Carry Texas posted on Facebook that they "we will continue to honor our months long policy of not taking long arms into Target stores or any other business." This is a very precise specification: long arms. Smaller weapons that fall under Concealed Carry laws will still be making their ways into Target stores. Concealed Carry permits allow gun owners to carry a hidden holster with a small weapon, generally a handgun, on their person. In some cases, it allows the weapon to be hidden within a car as well.
The Wire reached out to Target to explain the details of this statement, and Target's stance on Concealed Carry. "This isn't a policy change, this is a position," said Molly Snyder, a member of Target's public relations team, in a phone interview. "We are requesting that people do not carry any firearms in our stores, including concealed carry. We will continue to follow local laws, however, concealed weapons are included in our position." Target also confirmed that they have not sold any guns or gun paraphernalia in their stores since the early 1980s, and have not sold realistic toy guns since the 1990s.
While Target is "respectfully requesting" customers not bring weapons of any kind into their stores, they won't actually force customers to leave if they do so. When asked if Target will ask a gun toting customer to leave, Snyder told The Wire, "Because this is a request and not a prohibition, we do not plan to communicate with our customers at this time."
The store won't be kicking out any customers who don't honor their respectful request, but those found carrying long arms into Target stores will feel the heat from Open Carry Texas and the NRA. Open Carry Texas has been criticized by some gun owners through social media, who blame the group's radical actions for the corporate push back against weapons in their establishments.
Dan Boggs wrote on the OCT Facebook, "It was without a doubt OCT that got guns, concealed or not, banned from Target, as well as a number of other stores. You guys forced...Target to take a stance on the issue and they have to protect their family friendly image." Even a local NRA called the practice of bringing long arms into establishments of this sort "weird," though they later retracted this statement.
However, Mr. Boggs and members of OCT can technically continue to carry whatever they please into Target stores, as long as the local law allows it. They will just be disrespectfully declining the CEO's request.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.