Target announced Wednesday that it will ask shoppers to keep firearms out of its stores, after battling protests over the store’s gun policy came to a head when a loaded gun was found in a store’s toy aisle last month.
In an update from interim CEO John Mulligan to Target’s team members, Mulligan declared, “Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target–even in communities where it is permitted by law.”
“This is a complicated issue,” Mulligan wrote, “but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.”
The announcement by one of the largest retailers in America comes after a string of other companies have instituted no-gun policies. Several, including Chipotle and Starbucks, announced soft policies similar to Target’s over the past few months that simply ask customers not to bring their companies. Mulligan’s announcement did not specify whether it will enforce a gun ban against customers. A number of other companies have flat-out bans.
Last month, a loaded gun was found in the toy aisle of a Target in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, sitting on top of a superhero Playskool toy box. The story received a lot of attention, especially because just days earlier so-called “open-carry gun activists” took their rifles to a Target store in Dallas and took pictures in the baby aisle.
In response, an advocacy group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America ramped up efforts to get Target to ban open carry in stores. Their petition got nearly 400,000 signatures, and the campaign got media attention after one of their peaceful protests in Texas was shut down by a Target manager who asked nearly thirty moms to leave and threatened to call the police, according to the Facebook page of the group.
Target’s announcement has gotten positive feedback so far. In the comment section of the company’s announcement, comments are overwhelmingly expressing gratitude:
But OpenCarry.org co-founder John Pierce told BuzzFeed that he is disappointed with the announcement, but considers it a “non-policy.”
Abigail Bessler is an intern at ThinkProgress.