Dick’s Sporting Goods is leading the fight against gun violence with actual action
As mass shootings and gun violence remain as common as ever in the U.S. and Congress continues to refuse to take action to stop them, other leaders are having to step up instead: CEOs of major corporations, including the places where guns are actually sold. One of the people leading that charge is Ed Stack, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, who just revealed that after the Parkland school shooting last year, his store destroyed $5 million worth of AR-15 rifles that it had pulled from its shelves and refused to continue to sell.
Dick’s was one of the country’s largest firearms sellers until 2012, when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting made Stack start to reevaluate his role in putting guns into the hands of any American who walked into a big-box store like his.
“I don’t understand how somebody, with everything that’s gone on, could actually sit there and say, ‘I don’t think we need to do a background check on people who buy guns.’ It’s just, it’s ridiculous,” he told CBS in a new interview.
After Sandy Hook, he made the decision to stop selling AR-15s, the same type of rifle that was used in that attack that killed more than two dozen people, mostly young children.
“All we were going to do was just take it off the shelf and not say anything,” he said. “We probably get a little bit of a backlash, but we didn’t expect to get what we got. All this about, you know, how we were anti-Second Amendment, you know, ‘we don’t believe in the Constitution,’ and none of that could be further from the truth. We just didn’t want to sell the assault-style weapons that could inflict that kind of damage.”
Still, Stack stood by his decision. Then, in 2018 after the Parkland shooting, he was devastated to learn that Dick’s might have played a role in the tragedy.
“We found out that we sold this kid a shotgun,” Stack said. “That’s when I said, ‘We’re done.’ Even though it wasn’t the gun he used. It could have been.”
That experience encouraged Stack and his wife to take a trip to Florida to meet with Parkland survivors. Soon after, they announced that Dick’s would stop selling any guns to any buyer under 21 years old. That move lost them about a quarter of a million dollars, Stack said. Plus, there was the question of what to do with all the AR-15s the company had in inventory that they would no longer sell.
“I said, ‘You know what? If we really think these things should be off the street, we need to destroy them,” Stack said.
So they did. Dick’s turned $5 million worth of AR-15 rifles into scrap metal.
It’s just the latest move by a corporation to do what Congress won’t. Recently, executives from nearly 150 major companies signed a letter demanding that Congress finally take action on gun violence. That follows a string of stores, including Walmart and Walgreens, asking their customers to stop open-carrying while they shop.