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Target no-guns policy: It’s a store, not a metaphor

The retailer says it does not want customers running around its shops carrying guns, even if it is legal.AFP/Getty Images

It is a disturbing image: a shopper roaming the aisles in a Target store while casually carrying a long-range rifle over his shoulders, a pack of Oreos in his hands, and a proud smile on his face. In a move that deserves credit, and four months after the photo first turned up online, Target made a respectful and perfectly sensible request to its customers: Do not bring firearms into our stores.

Of course, it is not a binding gun ban, since citizens with gun licenses in some states are lawfully permitted to openly carry their rifles and shotguns. Still, Target’s action reflects a welcome civic responsibility, and it followed the lead of national food chains such as Starbucks, Chipotle, Chili’s, and Sonic, which have all recently announced that their stores are gun-free zones. It is the work of an advocacy group made up of Target’s most valued target customer: moms. “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” has been launching campaign after campaign to promote gun safety in public places. Their latest mark was, quite literally, a red bull’s-eye, Target’s ubiquitous logo.


“Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create,” said Target’s CEO in a statement. In 2013, at least 100 children were killed in unintentional shootings, according to a new study by Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization working to end gun violence. Target, the third-largest US retailer, took a risk in taking on the gun industry. Americans may love their firearms, but not where they shop for diapers and detergent. Target, whose woes with a massive data breach late last year damaged its credibility, has reinforced the notion that corporations can lead by suggesting that its customers live up to common-sense norms.