Relax, Open Carry Won’t Get You Shot At Kroger

Relax, Open Carry Won’t Get You Shot At Kroger

A bunch of activists and liberal senators are pressuring the grocery giant to end its firearm open-carry policy, apparently out of pure meanness.
Daniel Payne
By

I have written before of gun controllers’ tendency to be woefully uneducated about the very things they seek to control: from firearm terminology, to the constitutional basis for and history of American gun ownership, to the causes and factors of gun violence, the anti-gun crowd is usually embarrassingly off-base. Aside from pro-abortionists, there is perhaps no political constituency less informed about its animating principle than the gun control bloc.

Nevertheless, it’s worth considering each gun-control issue on a case-by-case basis, if only to give due consideration to the law of averages: at some point they have to get it right, just as those monkeys with typewriters will, at some point, spell out the entirety of “Hamlet.” Alas for both the monkeys and anti-gun zealots, that time has still not come. If Moms Demand Action’s latest media stunt is any indication, Big Gun Control is continuing its tradition of being wrong about every policy for which it advocates.

If you weren’t in the know, MDA—one of the country’s premier gun control groups, the coalition à la mode of the gun control haut monde—recently delivered a petition of 300,000 signatures to Kroger, demanding (of course demanding) that the grocery giant “ensure the safety and security of its customers and employees by asking guests not to openly carry guns in its stores.” Moms Demand Action also took a poll in which a majority of respondents “want a grocery shopping environment free of openly carried firearms.” “It’s well past time,” founder Shannon Watts announced a while ago, that the Kroger higher-ups “listen to their customers, employees, and elected officials and prohibit open carry inside their stores.”

“When state laws don’t protect children and families,” Watts continued, “it’s up to businesses that depend heavily on female clientele to put policies in place that protect them on their private property.”

If that wasn’t enough, three U.S. senators have joined in the fight: Dianne Feinstein from California and Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both from Connecticut, co-authored a letter to Kroger imploring Kroger to ban open carry because of “gun extremists [who] have exploited the current Kroger gun policy.” A couple of Connecticut Democrats and the ex-mayor of San Francisco do not exactly suggest a government-led shakedown, but still, it’s pretty weird of these politicians to have written such a letter to a private corporation.

Does Anyone Shoot Up Grocery Stores?

Well, anyway, there has to be a good rationale; one assumes these folks have strong reason to oppose Kroger’s liberal open-carry policy. There must be a greater danger associated with shopping at a grocery store that allows customers to openly carry firearms, and MDA, along with the Gang of Kroger Three, must have facts to back up their crusade. They must, in other words, be able to convincingly prove that there is an extant and prominent threat associated with open-carry grocery stores: these stores must have higher incidences of shootings and gun violence, and the stores that do not allow open-carry must have lower incidences of such tragedies. Right?

Would any of these three instances of gun violence have been prevented by a ‘no-open-carry’ rule in Kroger? I can’t see how.

Well, I struggled mightily to find any evidence to either confirm or refute this hypothesis. There doesn’t seem to be a breakdown, anywhere, of the most violent or dangerous grocery stores in which one has the highest risk for getting shot. You can find a number of news stories regarding shootings at Kroger, though it’s hardly the stuff gun control petitions are made of: in one shooting, an employee (not a customer) used his gun to shoot and kill a robber who was attempting to assault the employee; another shooting occurred outside of a Kroger, and was perpetrated by an alleged criminal; there were some others, but none of the stories I read involved the shooter openly carrying his weapon, and none of the shootings seemed like they’d have been prevented if Kroger had banned weapons from its stores.

I did find an article that linked to a few of MDA’s examples of Kroger-related gun violence: one shooting in Gwinnett County, Georgia back in February, which was perpetrated by a mentally ill man who believed people were “after him.” The man was allegedly on drugs, and he possessed his weapon illegally. Another instance MDA cited: a murder-suicide in Atlanta. This shooting, however, occurred once again outside the Kroger, not in. The killer first shot from her car, got out and continued firing, and then turned the gun on herself.

An Everytown for Gun Safety press release in support of MDA listed just three Kroger gun violence events: the two listed above, and one in which a woman ran to her car, retrieved her firearm, and used it to threaten someone with which she was having an argument. Would any of these instances of gun violence (or the threat of it) have been prevented by a “no-open-carry” rule in Kroger? I can’t see how. In fact, I’m prepared to say that banning open carry would have had absolutely no effect on these events.

There are allegedly many more examples of Kroger shootings to which Moms Demand Actions refers, but the group is oddly silent about it. Their #GroceriesNotGuns page lists exactly zero such incidents, though you’d imagine they’d want to put the evidence front and center in order to prove their point. Moreover, the whole thing kind of defies logic in another way: if getting shot were such a clear and present danger at your neighborhood Kroger, it seems likely that Kroger’s chain of command would have issued such a ban a long time ago. There’s nothing a grocery store hates more than losing customers to competitors (something MDA is counting on), and there’s nothing that would cause more customer loss than your grocery store being a statistically deadly environment. If Kroger were dangerous for its customers, Kroger would be doing everything it could to keep its customers safe.

Gun Antagonists Provide No Statistics

So there’s no readily-identifiable evidence that shoppers are really in danger of getting shot at grocery stores that allow open carry. It’s just not there. So I figured, why not ask the folks who appear to know? I e-mailed MDA to ask them for some data or statistics that justify their fear of armed Kroger shoppers; I e-mailed senators Feinstein, Blumenthal, and Murphy to ask them for the same. I also contacted Kroger to see if they might have any opinion as to whether their stores were more or less dangerous for having open-carry policies.

Moms Demand Action seems to be operating a crusade of fear, not facts.

Blumenthal and Murphy both informed me that, as I did not live in what Murphy called “the great state of Connecticut,” they thought my inquiries would be better served by asking my own representative (but they didn’t write the letter, senators). Blumenthal did allow that I might mail his office via the U.S. Postal Service (fat chance, buster—I’m trying to cut down on my carbon emissions). I heard nothing from Feinstein one way or the other. I considered calling their offices to see if I might be able to get some comments over the phone, but that seemed like a stretch—and at any rate, the letter that the senators wrote contains no data on Kroger shootings, just rhetoric on “bizarre displays” of openly-carried rifles and scare talk about “gun extremists.”

Oh, well. What about Moms Demand Action? They never got back to me, either. (Being a writer for The Federalist will get you into a fair number of exclusive DC-area oxygen bars and a top-tier steakhouse or two, but it doesn’t seem to hold much sway with liberal politicians and gun-control groups.) I did not hear back from Kroger, as well. The grocery giant has been silent on the matter in public—at the time of this writing, there were no press releases yet regarding the issue of guns in its stores. (According to Shannon Watts, one Kroger manager in Ohio refused to take the list of petition signatures that an MDA representative brought to her, but this was as close to an official statement on the matter as I could find.)

After all this, I’m forced to conclude there really isn’t any statistical danger in shopping alongside openly-carried rifles and other firearms; there doesn’t seem to be any data at all to justify being afraid of someone carrying a gun in Kroger. Indeed, the only instance I could find of a potential shooting involving an openly-carrying Kroger customer was in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which the police showed up and drew their guns on a man who had been carrying his rifle while he shopped. The man had been breaking neither state law nor Kroger policy.

Moms Demand Action seems to be operating a crusade of fear, not facts; they seem less concerned with objective proof and more considered with terrors that do not exist. It will be up to Kroger to decide whether to ban guns within its stores. Perhaps, after all these goings-on and negative publicity, it would be a smart business decision to do so—but it will have been borne of a campaign of misinformation, fear-mongering ,and total ignorance of the evidence. Who would want to give into the demands of such intolerant and irrational bullies?

Daniel Payne is an assistant editor for The College Fix, the news magazine of the Student Free Press Association. Daniel's work has appeared in outlets such as National Review Online, Reason, Front Porch Republic, and elsewhere. His personal blog can be found at Trial of the Century. He lives in Virginia.

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