In response to the February shooting in Parkland, Florida, several big companies – Walmart, Kroger, L.L. Bean, and Dick’s Sporting Goods – stopped selling “assault style” rifles and raised their minimum purchase age for all firearms and ammunition to 21. Now, in what can only be described as a political statement that shows the company’s true colors, Dick’s will destroy the guns they aren’t selling rather than return them to the manufacturers for reimbursement.
There’s no money to be made in the retail business by not selling a product. At best, refusing to sell AR-15s and other similar rifles is simply political grandstanding: a blatant attempt to cash in on what appears to be a growing trend in public opinion to attract sympathetic customers. At worst, it’s an intentional attack on the right to keep and bear arms. Destroying the guns rather than returning them to the manufactures sure seems to place Dick’s Sporting Goods firmly within that anti-Second Amendment category.
As for saving lives: They aren’t. As I explained in the article calling for more gunsplaining, the black scary guns aren’t any different, mechanically speaking, from the guns with wood stocks that look more like traditional hunting rifles, but shoot the exact same bullet at the exact same rate of fire.
Follow the Money
The expression “follow the money” has become quite popular lately, and in general, it’s great advice. Given the actions of Dick’s and other retailers, there’s an important question liberty loving consumers need to ask: “What is my money supporting?”
According to Dick’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, no political contributions or endorsements are to be made by Dick’s or in the company’s name:
“Dick’s Sporting Goods’ associates, officers and directors are free to engage in political activities on their own time and to contribute to candidates of their choice. However, due to strict federal and state election campaign laws, contributions to political campaigns, domestic or foreign, are prohibited by or on behalf of Dick’s Sporting Goods as a corporate entity.
Dick’s Sporting Goods does not contribute cash, services, goods, or any other items of value to the campaigns of candidates for any elective office or to any political party or “cause” that is political. Consequently, you are not authorized to make any political contribution, whether in cash, goods, use of facilities or otherwise, on behalf of Dick’s Sporting Goods. You may not use Dick’s Sporting Goods’ funds, facilities or other resources for any political purpose unless such use is approved in writing in advance by Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Director of Legal.”
If we look at the data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics over at opensecrets.org for the 2016 election cycle, Dicks Sporting Goods as an organization stayed true to their rules. However, associated individuals did make political contributions. So long as these donations weren’t made on behalf of Dick’s or using company funds, they’re legit. But let’s see where that money went anyway. A total of $12,646 was given to Democrats and $9,157 to Republicans – and a whopping $300,000 to House Majority PAC, a super PAC “focused on holding Republicans accountable and helping Democrats win seats in the House” that “combines innovative new approaches with time-tested strategies to do battle with Republican outside groups and make a difference.” So far in 2018 (based on data released March 29), Democrats have received $12,850 from individuals associated with Dick’s Sporting Goods, while Republicans got $8,220 – and $15 went to Independent (who may as well have stayed a Democrat) Bernie Sanders.
A Left-Leaning Sporting Goods Company?
While Dick’s as a company is prohibited by their own rules from engaging in political contributions, most of the money donated by associated individuals – an incredible 97% in 2016, thanks to that super PAC donation – has gone to Democrats in the last two election cycles. While some Republicans do back what they call “common sense” gun reform, it’s generally the Democratic Party that threatens the Second Amendment.
It could be argued that the company’s overall political leanings, if any, shouldn’t be gleaned simply from what candidates and causes associates choose to back. After all, take away the 2016 House Majority PAC donations, and the numbers are much closer to balanced – though still skewed to the left. But when you add in the recent move to not only stop selling certain rifles, but to destroy them as well, the corporation’s true colors – blue overwhelmingly more than red – shine through.
Politics: The Economic Natural Selection?
As we’ve seen before, taking a political stance can be a costly mistake for a large company. Will it prove so for Dick’s? How about Walmart, Kroger, and L.L. Bean? So long as the law allows, there will be other stores that happily sell guns – even the dreaded AR-15 – to adults 18 and over. At the very least, these four retailers will drive would-be gun owners between 18 and 20 to those business. That’s more money for the competition, and less for themselves.
But how many lovers of liberty are willing to stop shopping at these four all together? Dicks and L.L. Bean are easy; no one buys their groceries, toiletries, or housewares from these two, and only a single replacement must be found. It’s entirely possible they might fall to a sort of economic “natural selection” as they alienate the majority of their customers. The real challenge is Walmart and Kroger. It may be a tough pill to swallow for those accustomed to the convenience of the one-stop shop, but as the old saying goes, nothing worth doing is ever easy.