Georgia gun owners with carry permits need to leave their weapons at home when they visit a Target store.
The retailing giant, which does not sell guns or ammunition, posted a blog Wednesday that says “we respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.”
Target’s interim CEO, John Mulligan, said: “This is a complicated issue, 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.”
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Gun-rights activists have focused on different retailers as they have announced policies restricting the “open carry” of guns in stores. Businessweek reports that Chipotle and Starbucks have been targets of scrutiny after the chains decided they would not allow guns in their locations.
As of July 1, House Bill 60 (the Safe Carry Protection Act) allows licensed gun owners to bring guns into a variety of places formerly barred. There are a number of rules, requirements and exceptions included in the text of the bill – churches, for example, may decide on an individual basis whether that church will allow guns inside.
The law allows private property owners to decide whether to allow Georgians with gun-carrying permits onto their premises with their weapons, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, so Minneapolis-based Target is within its rights to ask customers to leave their guns at home.
Gun-rights activists have demonstrated at Target stores in Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin, and Virginia, Businessweek says. Photographs of men carrying assault rifles while shopping in a Texas Target store ignited debate on social media.
The photos prompted a rebuke from the National Rifle Association, says The Washington Post, which called the demonstrations “downright weird” in a statement on its Web site. Days later, the association’s top lobbyist backtracked on that criticism, labeling them the view of an unauthorized staffer.
In early June, the gun-control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America started a petition asking Target to keep gun-toting customers out of its stores.
The group’s website cheered this week’s decision for Target’s more than 1,700 stores.
“This huge change made by one of our country’s largest and leading retailers is proof that when women and mothers collectively use our voices and votes, we will change the culture of gun violence in America,” said the advocacy group.