Target joins Starbucks and Chipotle, asks customers to leave guns at home


As naïve as it now sounds, it was widely predicted, in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass murder, that America would have a serious debate/discussion about gun laws. That hasn't happened, of course. What has happened is that the discussion has moved into the private sector. Certain proponents of gun rights (sometimes called the open carry movement) have been selectively testing the policies of large companies by heading to their locations en masse, guns in hand.

In "open carry" states, it is absolutely legal to carry a gun, so long as that gun is in plain sight. In practice, the exact boundary of the right to carry a gun in public is less easily defined, as carrying a firearm, even in an open carry state, may be a crime if doing so results in a breach of the peace, or if the carrier is intoxicated. It is similarly difficult to define what constitutes a beach of the peace, and in fact, the determination that the peace has been breached always requires a police officer to make a judgement call.

It seems the exact location of that boundary will likely remain a mystery, for now, because most recently, gun rights advocates have been running afoul not of the law, but of corporate policy. There is little question that businesses and restaurants can ban the carrying of guns on their own premises if they wish to, so it seems as though the real question on gun rights advocates' minds was would they?

The answer appears to be yes , though a polite yes. Starbucks (sbux), Chipotle ( CMG ) and now Target ( TGT ) all quietly ignored their armed patrons at first, but eventually asked customers to leave their guns at home. The requests came amid mounting consumer pressure, and pressure from groups such as Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, which prefer to spend their money in stores and restaurants frequented exclusively by the unarmed.

It is entirely plausible to posit that the open carry movement is seeking to make its point by causing companies to overreact, thereby demonstrating that de facto erosion of gun rights is ongoing and significant, but so far, no company has. It is also possible that the group (or groups) is just trying to determine which businesses share their passion so they, too, can spend their money in an environment of their choosing.

There will almost certainly be calls to boycott Target as a result of the company's decision today, and some of those calls will almost certainly be made using hyperbolic language. Based on the performance of SBUX and CMG stock in the weeks since they declared their own "gun free" preferences, however, Target doesn't appear to have any problems today that it didn't have yesterday.

Julian Close has been a business writer since the first day of the twenty-first century, having written for PRA International and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping. He graduated from Davidson College in 1993 and received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Mary Baldwin College in 2011. He became a stockbroker in 1993, but now works for Fresh Brewed Media and uses his powers only for good. You can see closing trades for all Julian's long and short positions and track his long term performance via twitter: @JulianClose_MIC .

This article was originally published on

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: CMG , TGT

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