Target ‘‍respectfully’ asks customers to enter stores without their firearms

Retailer reacts to boycott push countering open-carry movement

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DALLAS — U.S. re­tailer Tar­get on Wed­nes­day asked shop­pers not to bring guns to its stores af­ter pro­tests against a gun-rights cam­paign in Texas, where cus­tom­ers bran­dished fire­arms in store aisles.

“Start­ing to­day we will ... re­spect­fully re­quest that guests not bring fire­arms to Tar­get — even in com­mu­ni­ties where it is per­mit­ted by law,” Tar­get chief ex­ec­u­tive John Mul­li­gan said in a post­ing on its web­site.

“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,” said Mr. Mul­li­gan.

Groups ad­vo­cat­ing the un­li­censed, open car­ry­ing of hand­guns have taken ri­fles and shot­guns to restau­rants and re­tail­ers, mostly in Texas, to draw at­ten­tion to their cause, point­ing to Texas laws that per­mit their ac­tions.

An ad­vo­cacy group called Moms Demand Ac­tion for Gun Sense in Amer­ica waged a so­cial me­dia cam­paign to boy­cott Tar­get af­ter pho­tos cir­cu­lated of open-carry group mem­bers in Texas walk­ing through stores with ri­fles and shot­guns over their shoul­ders.

“Moms ev­ery­where were hor­ri­fied to see im­ages of peo­ple car­ry­ing loaded as­sault ri­fles down the same aisles where we shop for di­a­pers and toys,” founder Shan­non Watts said in a state­ment.

Open Carry Tar­rant County, a gun rights group in the Fort Worth area be­hind cam­paigns that have drawn some of the most at­ten­tion, said Wed­nes­day that its mem­bers will con­tinue to ex­er­cise their right to carry weap­ons in pub­lic.

The group has parted ways with Open Carry Texas af­ter dis­agree­ing with the state­wide group's call to mem­bers to stop car­ry­ing long guns in restau­rants.

“They just want to shut up the cry ba­bies who sup­port more vic­tims for crim­i­nals. The Unarmed!” the Open Carry Tar­rant County group said on a Face­book post­ing.

The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion has weighed in on the de­bate, say­ing in a state­ment about a month ago that these sorts of open-carry tac­tics were “fool­ish,” “coun­ter­pro­duc­tive” and “down­right scary.” The pow­er­ful na­tional gun lobby group was se­verely crit­i­cized by open-carry ac­tiv­ists for its po­si­tion, and a few days later, it backed away, say­ing the state­ment was a mis­take made by a staff mem­ber who had a poor choice of words, add­ing that it sup­ported open carry.

A num­ber of na­tional eat­er­ies, in­clud­ing Chipo­tle Mex­i­can Grill Inc, Sonic Drive-In, Chili's Grill & Bar and Jack in the Box Inc., have also asked pa­trons to keep their fire­arms at home.

Top re­tailer Wal-Mart said it abides by the laws re­gard­ing open carry based on where its out­lets are lo­cated.

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