- Kroger says it will stop selling guns and ammunition to consumers under the age of 21 at its Fred Meyer stores, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- The grocer is the third major retailer to implement new buying policies for firearms in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting that killed 17 people. Earlier this week, Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart announced they would no longer sell guns to anyone under 21. Dick's said it would also stop selling assault-style rifles at its Field & Stream store locations. Walmart discontinued sales of assault-style rifles in 2015.
- Fred Meyer, which operates 43 stores and was acquired by Kroger in 1999, stopped selling assault-style rifles in Oregon, Idaho and Washington several years ago. Wednesday, the chain said it would discontinue sales of those firearms in its Alaska stores, as well.
As calls for stricter gun control measures continue to mount following the school shooting in Florida, companies have taken action. In addition to the new policies implemented by Dick's Sporting Goods, Walmart and now Kroger, corporations like Delta and Hertz have ended their relationships with the National Rifle Association.
Kroger, which fought a shareholder group's request in 2016 to end the sale of semiautomatic weapons in stores, said it took a hard look at its gun-buying policies following the Florida attack, and decided to make changes.
This move carries a considerable risk of blowback from gun supporters. But it also reflects a movement gaining support from consumers across the country. Politico reported that roughly 2 in 3 Americans believe gun laws should be more strict following the Florida shooting — 68% of registered voters support stronger limits, compared to 25% who oppose these measures.
After Dick’s announced its new policies, Twitter messages citing the retailer increased 12,000%, according to The New York Times, with 79% of tweets containing a positive message towards the company.
Still, there have also been consumers who have tweeted that they will no longer shop at the retailer because of this decision. In many of their posts, customers included the hashtag #boycott.
Retailers know a move like this brings uncertainty. Best-case scenario, Kroger gets largely-positive PR on Twitter for a few days and could cement its position as a mission-based brand in the mind of the consumer. Depending on how things look when the social media dust settles, other retailers may jump on the bandwagon.