CINCINNATI, OH – Today Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Mary Reed, who was shot alongside Rep. Gabby Giffords in the 2011 Tucson mass shooting on the premises of a Safeway grocery store, joined nearly 60 members of Moms Demand Action from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee to call on Kroger to finally change its dangerous open carry gun policy. After more than 300,000 petition signatures and nearly 13,000 phone calls demanding that the nation’s largest supermarket chain stop allowing the open carry of guns in its stores, a new poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group shows 64 percent of Kroger shoppers polled believe people should not be able to openly carry guns in Kroger stores.
In the lead up to today’s rally, Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety launched a media blitz in Cincinnati, asking Kroger’s President Michael Ellis and CEO W. Rodney McMullen to meet to discuss Kroger’s open carry policy in a full page open letter that ran in the Cincinnati Enquirer yesterday. But after accepting radio ads by Everytown for Gun Safety that illustrate the inconsistency in Kroger’s position, Cincinnati radio stations stopped airing the ads (which can be heard here and here).
“Our ads are nothing more than Kroger employees reiterating Kroger’s policy, which is to prohibit children’s toys and household pets in the name of customer safety, but to allow anyone to openly carry loaded firearms, even though no permit, training or background check is required to do so in most states,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Evidently Kroger is growing uncomfortable with their position – as evidenced by how they bussed their investors out of their planned meeting location very early this morning (photo below.) But Moms are resilient – we came from states across the country to call on Kroger to put our families’ safety first. We don’t know why they are running away and siding with gun extremists, rather than mothers, gun violence survivors and the majority of Kroger shoppers, who support ending open carry in Kroger stores.”
In a majority of states, including Ohio, it is completely legal to open carry a loaded gun in public without any training, permitting, or a background check. In some states, there isn’t even an age requirement to open carry a loaded firearm. In 2012, there were 6.6 million gun transfers nationwide without a background check.
“I was shot three times while shielding my then 17-year-old daughter from bullets shot outside a grocery store. I later learned that the shooter had been shopping at that grocery store for about 15 minutes before attacking. He walked out past the magazines, past produce, out of those automatic doors and began firing bullets into a crowd,” said Mary Reed, survivor of the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson and volunteer with Moms Demand Action. “As a gun owner and a gun violence survivor, I want Kroger leadership and its investors to know open carry is bad business, and beyond that, it’s just plain dangerous.”
While Kroger has not yet changed its open carry policy, in recent weeks, New Seasons Market, a chain of more than a dozen grocery stores located in Oregon and Washington, and Panera Bread recently joined other major brands, including Target, Starbucks, Chipotle, Sonic, Jack in the Box, and Chili’s, in asking guests to leave their firearms at home.