June 4, 2019
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter purchased a shot gun from Dick’s Sporting Goods. Even though he didn’t use that particular weapon in the shooting in February of 2018 — in which 17 students were killed — the owner and CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ed Stack, removed all assault-style weapons, all bump stocks and all high-capacity magazines from all of the company’s stores, and discontinued sales to people under the age of 21.
The reaction from the gun lobby was predictable. More than 60 employees quit after the announcement, and O.F. Mossberg & Son, one of the company’s gun suppliers, discontinued selling directly to the company. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, speaking at an NRA convention, said that by taking the guns off the shelves “the company is really appropriately named.” For the fiscal year ending Feb. 2, same-store sales fell 3.1 percent.
What did Stack do next? Last year, Dick’s took all guns out of 10 of its stores and filled the empty space with products targeted for those markets, such as sports team merchandise. Those 10 stores outperformed the rest of the chain. In March, Dick’s said it was taking guns out of 125 stores out of its total fleet of roughly 730.
Meanwhile, Stack has hired a firm to lobby Congress for common-sense gun legislation and has joined the council of business leaders of the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety. Along with other executives, he signed a letter urging Congress to pass a bill that would require background checks on all gun sales, including unlicensed sales arranged at gun shows or online.
It’s remarkable what happens when lives take precedence over profit.