Five retailers have announced this week that they will start asking customers not to openly carry guns into their stores in states where open carry is legal.
Walgreens, CVS and Wegmans announced the new policy Thursday afternoon, following announcements from Walmart and Kroger on Wednesday.
“We support the efforts of individuals and groups working to prevent gun violence, and continually review our policies and procedures to ensure our stores remain a safe environment,” CVS said in a statement.
All of the retailers will still allow law enforcement officers to openly carry firearms.
Companies have faced increasing pressure to take action to prevent gun violence after a spate of mass shootings in recent weeks, including one inside a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas.
Advocates for gun control applauded the move to stop allowing open carry in retail locations after Walmart announced its new policy Wednesday. Walmart also announced that it would end some gun and ammunition sales, and would start pushing elected officials to adopt tighter gun laws.
Kris Brown, president of advocacy group Brady United, said the move by Walmart is “basically telling the NRA that logic does not support what they’ve been saying — this ‘good guy with a gun’ idea is patently false.”
The NRA has repeatedly said that law-abiding citizens with guns are the best protection from “bad guys with guns.” It released a statement opposing Walmart’s decision Wednesday.
Wegmans said in its statement Thursday that the policy is intended to keep customers and employees safer and to help them feel more comfortable in its stores.
“The sight of someone with a gun can be alarming, and we don’t want anyone to feel that way at Wegmans,” the company said.
Watts said that in addition to keeping employees and customers safer, asking customers not to openly carry guns in their stores puts these retailers on a new side of the gun debate.
“Prohibiting open carry sends a very strong cultural signal that companies are siding with the safety of families,” Watts said. “They know their customers are with them on this … they want to be on the right side of history but they also know that these actions are good for business.”