As Gynell Walker shopped for Nike polo shirts in the Butler Plaza Dick’s Sporting Goods, she was unaware of the hunting rifles and shotguns in the back of the store.
Walker, 45, of Gainesville, didn’t realize the Archer Road location sold firearms until after the company pulled assault rifles from affiliated stores Wednesday.
Two weeks after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Dick’s CEO Edward Stack announced the company will no longer sell assault-style rifles and high capacity magazines in its stores. Customers must be over the age of 21 to buy firearms. Walmart, which stopped selling assault rifles in 2015, also announced it will no longer sell firearms to customers under 21 years old in a statement Wednesday evening.
In November 2017, Nikolas Cruz, the suspected Parkland shooter, legally purchased a shotgun from a Dick’s store. It was not the weapon or type of weapon used at the shooting, but “it could have been,” Stack wrote.
“Clearly this indicates on so many levels that the systems in place are not effective to protect our kids and our citizens,” he wrote. “We believe it’s time to do something about it.”
Walker, a stay-at-home wife, said she likes Dick’s new age requirement because it will regulate who can purchase firearms. However, she thinks more regulations should be established.
“The assault rifles are not the problem. It’s who’s buying them that’s the problem,” she said. “You don’t have to stop selling them, you just have to know who you’re selling them to.”
Although Dick’s locations stopped selling assault rifles after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, the weapons were still available at the company’s 35 subsidiary Field & Stream stores, according to Stack’s statement. Field & Stream will no longer sell assault-style rifles. The closest Field & Stream to Gainesville is in Charleston, South Carolina.
The statement from Dick’s also supports stronger gun control reform, including universal background checks and the ban of assault rifles.
Daniel Quinones, a UF economics freshman, said he’s shopped at Dick’s for new running clothes since Sports Authority announced it would close all of its locations in 2017. The 19-year-old said he was impressed with Dick’s for deciding to establish the new age requirement and expects other companies to follow in its footsteps.
“I think it’s a good move to take a stand like that because it can set an example for any other store,” Quinones said. “They have influence and a large reach, so they’re sending a message to a pretty large number of people.”