On Saturday, yet another armed rally occurred in the parking lot of a Target store – this time in Irving, Texas. Moms Demand Action confirmed with a Target manager that the store knew in advance that the open carry rally would take place, and Target did nothing to stop it. News of this latest demonstration comes as more than 286,000 people have signed Moms’ petition asking Target Corp. CEO John Mulligan to prohibit the open carry of guns in its stores in response to demonstrations organized by a gun extremist group that brought gunmen with loaded assault weapons into stores (photos here). In addition, the grassroots movement of moms has delivered petition signatures to stores in nearly 20 states, and recently protested Target’s annual shareholder meeting in Dallas.
“We are alarmed and appalled by this weekend’s event, but this is not an isolated incident – this open carry protest is one of many of similar events held in and around Target stores across the country in the last year,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Target’s refusal to enact a policy on open carry has led gun extremists to believe the company supports their campaign to normalize a behavior that is not only abnormal, it’s dangerous. As mothers and supporters of the Second Amendment, we are asking Target, one of our country’s largest retailers – and a store frequented by American women and mothers – to follow the lead of Chipotle and Starbucks and make a clear statement that open carry of firearms is not welcome in or around its stores.”
Gun extremists have been demonstrating at Target stores to promote their agenda of intimidation in Texas, Alabama, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Despite ongoing demonstrations, Target has still not instituted policies prohibiting open carry. Yet according to Target, mothers and women are an important part of the company’s customer base – 80 to 90 percent of Target’s customers are female and 38 percent of guests have children, a share the company says is higher than other discount stores.
In states where no background checks or training are required to buy semi-automatic rifles and carry them openly in public, businesses have a duty to protect their employees and patrons. The laws in a majority of states – including in Texas – allow people to openly carry loaded rifles in public with absolutely no training, permitting, or minimum age requirement. Combined with estimates that 40 percent of gun sales occur without a background check in the U.S., this means that people in most states can legally carry loaded rifles in public without ever having passed a criminal background check.
Gun extremists have held similar demonstrations at other locations and Moms petitions have led a number of companies to take swift action to stand with Moms and enforce or adopt policies that prohibit open carry to protect the safety of their employees and customers. Recently Sonic and Brinker International, which includes Chili’s Grill & Bar, prohibited the open carry of guns in their restaurants. Chipotle also quickly responded to a Moms’ petition by asking customers to leave their guns at home, “because the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers.” Last month Jack in the Box responded to the Moms’ petition by announcing that it would enforce a prohibition of guns in its stores, stating that, “the presence of guns inside a restaurant could create an uncomfortable situation for our guests and employees and lead to unintended consequences.”
Moms Demand Action previously launched petitions that garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures asking Starbucks, Facebook, and Instagram to reform the companies’ gun policies to make customers and communities safer. Starbucks announced that guns are no longer welcome in its stores as a result of the campaign. Facebook and Instagram also announced changes to block illegal gun sales after 230,000 Americans signed a Moms Demand Action petition asking for stronger protections against illegal gun sales on the two social media platforms.