Dick's Sporting Goods will destroy the assault-style weapons it didn't sell

Laura M. Holson
A customer looks at guns at a Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. store in Paramus, New Jersey.
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Dick's Sporting Goods plans to destroy the assault-style rifles and accessories it agreed to take off its shelves in February instead of returning them to gun manufacturers.

It is the latest action taken by the Pennsylvania retailer that agreed to ban the sale of assault-style rifles at its 35 Field & Stream stores, and to stop selling firearms and ammunition to anyone younger than 21.

Since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February that left 17 students and staff members dead, corporations have quickly responded to the public's growing demand for responsible gun control measures. Several retailers agreed to stop selling firearms to consumers younger than 21. Among them are Walmart, the nation's largest gun seller; L.L. Bean; and Kroger, which said it would restrict gun sales at its Fred Meyer stores.

Walmart also agreed to stop selling toys online that look like assault-style rifles. And Kroger announced in March that it would stop selling "assault-rifle themed periodicals."

"It's a very good barometer of where the public stands," said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization that seeks to end gun violence. "Corporations tend to reflect their customers."

The news that Dick's Sporting Goods would destroy the weapons was first reported last week in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A spokesman told the paper that the company was in the process of destroying the firearms and accessories no longer for sale, "in accordance with federal guidelines and regulations."

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In a significant move by a major bank last month, Citigroup said it would restrict the sale of firearms by its business partners, demanding guns not be sold to people younger than 21 or those who have not passed background checks. (The restrictions apply to clients who, among other things, raise capital via Citigroup or offer Citigroup-backed credit cards.)

any Americans have warned corporate America on social media about their feelings toward gun violence, even threatening to boycott brands. Corporations have cut sponsorships and partnerships with the National Rifle Association, which lobbies on behalf of gun makers and raised millions of dollars for the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.

Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Hertz and Avis announced they would end discount programs for the N.R.A.'s five million members. Delta and United also issued statements asking the N.R.A. to remove their information from its website.

"The message you are getting is that the gun lobby does not represent where the public stands on this issue," Mr. Feinblatt said. "The N.R.A. does not represent mainstream America."

A spokesman for the N.R.A. declined to comment on the recent moves by retailers, including the decision by Dick's Sporting Goods to destroy the unsold weapons.


Edward W. Stack, the chief executive of Dick's, acknowledged in February that the company sold a shotgun on Nov. 17 to Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland gunman. "It was not the gun, nor type of gun, he used in the shooting," Mr. Stack said in a statement. "But it could have been." The company previously stopped selling assault-style weapons at Dick's stores after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.

Under federal law, a person must be at least 21 to buy a handgun from a firearms dealer. But 18-year-olds can buy semiautomatic rifles and other firearms.