In a recent interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Kroger Senior Vice President and CFO Michael Schlotman was asked about the company’s stance on open carry within the chain’s stores. For months now, the pro-gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has called for the store to ban open carry from its locations, arguing that many states have “weak” gun laws and it is Kroger’s responsibility to protect its customers. In the past, campaigns by Moms Demand Action have played a part in influencing companies like Target to change their policy regarding firearms. Kroger, however, has stood firm in its refusal to change its current policy.
“If the local gun laws are to allow open carry, we’ll certainly allow customers to do that based on what the local laws are. We don’t believe it’s up to us to legislate what the local gun control laws should be. It’s up to the local legislators to decide to do that,” Schlotman said on CNBC. “So we follow local laws, we ask our customers to be respectful to the other people they are shopping with. And we really haven’t had any issues inside of our stores as a result of that.”
It is a rare voice of resistance to the campaigns led by Moms Demand Action. Since 2013, the gun control group has had success in convincing retail giants and restaurants like Target, Chipotle, and Starbucks to issue policy changes against open—and even concealed—carry. Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain and second largest general retailer (behind Walmart), has been a major focus for the organization.
“A grocery store is one of the last places we should expect to see someone openly carrying a loaded weapon. But Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the country, has policies that allow customers to openly carry guns in its stores—where moms and their kids shop every day,” the group state on its website.
Moms Demand Action even produced a series of provocative ads that portrayed gun owners carrying rifles in Kroger stores, as opposed to things the retail chain bans, such as food, lack of clothing, or skateboards.
“These are deceptive ads that attempt to paint everybody in a very odd corner, but the fact is they are isolated incidents,” Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, told CBS News last year. “In most cases firearms are used very judiciously, privately, very quietly.”
Kroger stated that its policy will continue to follow local and state laws, adding in a statement that “We know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue, and we trust them to be responsible in our stores.”