For months, Moms have called on Kroger to make a safer and more family-friendly shopping environment by prohibiting the open carry of firearms in its stores, just as brands including Target, Starbucks, and Panera have done.
Instead of meeting with us and reconsidering an irresponsible policy, Kroger's leadership has refused to listen. They have pressured radio stations to reject our ads and relocated their annual investor meeting to avoid interacting with customers. Just imagine how much easier it would have been if they would talk with us.
This week, Kroger executives and investors met in Cincinnati and I was there, along with dozens of Moms Demand Action volunteers from neighboring states, to make it as easy as possible for Kroger leadership to meet with us on an issue that women and mothers care about more than anything: the safety of our families. Rather than agree to a meeting, Kroger bullied radio stations into pulling our ads highlighting the absurdity of their gun policy (you can listen to the ads here and here). And this week, Kroger bussed its investors out of the hotel where they were planning to meet and to an alternate location -- probably to avoid the rally of mothers and customers we had organized to spark a conversation with them.
Evidently Kroger is growing uncomfortable with their gun policy, and frankly, they should be. Kroger is siding with gun extremists, rather than mothers, gun violence survivors, and the majority of Kroger shoppers, who support ending open carry in Kroger stores.
Moms refuse to be silenced. The ads that made Kroger so nervous are nothing more than recordings of Kroger employees reiterating Kroger's policy, which is to prohibit children's toys and household pets in the name of customer safety, but to allow anyone to openly carry loaded firearms, even though no permit, training, or background check is required to do so in most states.
Instead of working with us to make stores safer, Kroger has cited politicians' inaction to regulate open carry to justify their own stubborn refusal to institute a policy that does more than force employees and customers into a position where they must guess whether the armed individual in the frozen food aisle poses a threat to customers.
How are moms shopping with children expected to know the difference between an activist and a threat to our families? In a majority of states, it is completely legal to open carry a loaded gun in public without any training, permitting, or a background check. In some states, there isn't even an age requirement to open carry a loaded firearm.
That's why open carry poses a unique risk to the public. That's why we want Kroger to act, just as so many other major companies have done. And 83% of Kroger shoppers agree - Kroger is well within their rights to stop open carry.
When I founded Moms Demand Action the day after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, I knew that it would be a long road towards gun safety. Since then, millions of Americans have joined this fight and we will continue to be relentless whenever we feel the safety of our children is threatened.
Kroger's customers deserve to be heard and Moms won't stop until we get the change we need.