Another Retailer Changes Gun Sale Policy, Others Hold Firm

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Fred Meyer
Fred Meyer Credit: Tom Hauk/Bloomberg News

Another retailer is changing its policy when it comes to gun sales in the wake of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting that left 17 dead. Fred Meyer, the general market chain store owned by grocer Kroger, said Thursday that it will restrict sales of firearms to consumers who are at least 21 years old. Cincinnati-based Kroger, which operates more than 130 Fred Meyer stores, follows in the footsteps of Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart, which both said earlier this week that they will raise the buying age to 21. Dick's also said it will stop selling assault-style rifles; Walmart discontinued such sales three years ago.

"In response to the tragic events in Parkland and elsewhere, we've taken a hard look at our policies and procedures for firearm sales," Kroger said in a statement. "Recent events demonstrate the need for additional action on the part of responsible gun retailers." The company, which cited "softer demand" in gun departments, also noted that it stopped selling assault-style rifles in Oregon, Washington and Idaho stores years ago and that it will no longer accept any special orders for such guns in Alaska.

As retailers change buying policies, several brands, including MetLife, Delta Air Lines and Enterprise, are also severing ties with the National Rifle Association by ending discounting perks for members.

Consumers on social media pressured other gun retailers, including Bass Pro Shops and its Cabela's brand, to restrict their firearm sales. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, there were more than 64,600 licensed gun dealers and pawn brokers nationwide in 2017.

Neither Bass Pro nor Cabela's, which it acquired last September for $5 billion, returned calls requesting comment. Cabela's website touts a "Gun Library." Camping World Holdings, which also sells firearms and owns Gander Outdoors, did not respond to a request for comment.

But like Kroger, some sellers are seeing less interest in gun culture. Steven Miller, CEO of Big 5 Sporting Goods, an El Segundo, California-based retailer operating some 435 stores in 11 states, said on an earnings call this month that the brand's sales "continued to be impacted by reduced demand for firearm-related products." The company reported a 9 percent drop in fourth-quarter sales over the year-earlier period to $242.9 million.

A Big 5 spokesman notes that the chain has not sold assault rifles or high-capacity magazines since 2016. When asked if the brand is considering a change in firearm-buying age, the spokesman said, "Big 5 Sporting Goods follows all applicable laws with respect to age requirements for the purchase and sale of firearms."

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