fb-pixel Skip to main content

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.
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.