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The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which is funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will begin pressuring Kroger Co. this week to create a policy that bans individuals from openly carrying weapons in its stores.

"When a company like Kroger doesn't have a policy around guns, it seems to send a signal to gun extremists that they tacitly support or even endorse things like open carry," Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, tells the Journal.

A Kroger spokesperson, however, said that it is enough for stores to simply abide by state and local gun laws. "Millions of customers are present in our busy grocery stores every day and we don't want to put our associates in a position of having to confront a customer who is legally carrying a gun," Keith Dailey tells the Journal. "We know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue and we trust them to be responsible in our stores."

The story notes that "gun-rights advocates have pressed open-carry by legally carrying long arms such as rifles in public places to highlight restrictions on carrying handguns, arguing visible guns in public deter crime. State and local laws govern the right to carry guns in the open. Several states ban the open carrying of handguns, and some require a permit, while a number of states allow it."

Bloomberg-supported groups have had some success getting major retailers - including Target and Starbucks - to ask customers not to openly carry weapons into their stores, though they have been less successful trying to change laws and backing pro-gun control political candidates, the Journal reports.
KC's View:
I always try to be careful when commenting on this issue. I tend to be pro-gun control, but I recognize that my point of reference is limited, since I do not come from a gun culture, and I think the Second Amendment deserves as much respect as the First Amendment. I do wish that the absolutists on both sides of the issue could show a little more willingness to compromise; I'd feel safer. (And I hate it when pro-gun advocates push the envelope on what they can carry into stores, just to make a point. "Discretion" is apparently a word not in some people's vocabularies.)

That said … I don't think that it is fair to criticize a company like Kroger for following local and state laws. If you can get the laws changed, fine. If not, asking a company to alienate a portion of its clientele doesn't make sense. We need a common sense, national consensus on this issue, no a piecemeal approach.