INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A gun safety group is targeting one of the country’s largest grocers, Kroger, in its latest effort to create gun-free environments.
The group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, is going after Kroger, demanding that the grocery chain ban its customers from the open carry of guns. The move, insiders say, is in direct response to open carry demonstrations in other states that the group claims have unnerved some customers.
“Our motto is for this campaign – “Groceries Not Guns” – So we want a safe environment when we are shopping,” said Melanie Sokhey, the Indiana chapter lead for the group.
The group was founded online by Shannon Watts, a Zionsville mother who was disturbed by the Newtown, Connecticut shootings. The group has since amassed allegiances with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Sokhey said the group has more than 900 members in Indiana. She claims the organization is not anti-gun, but merely in search of “common sense gun laws.”
On the group’s website, it touts having run similar campaigns against restaurants and retailers including Target, Sonic, Chipotle and Starbucks. Starbucks requested and urged its customers to leave their guns at home last year.
John Elliott, a spokesman for Kroger in Indianapolis, released a statement that read:
“The safety of our customers and associates is one of our most important company values. Millions of customers are present in our busy grocery stores every day and we don’t want to put our associates in a position of having to confront a customer who is legally carrying a gun. That is why our long-standing policy on this issue is to follow state and local laws and to ask customers to be respectful of others while shopping. We know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue and we trust them to be responsible in our stores.”
Joe Lackey, President of the Indiana Grocery and Convenience Store Association, said he supports Kroger’s stance of not taking sides on the issue. He says doing so could have isolated customers or hurt the company’s profits.
“Our profit margins are very slim. We can’t afford to alienate any portion of our population,” Lackey said. “We have customers on both sides of this issue, because you don’t want to alienate either side. And we are not going to take sides which is what we would be doing if we joined with the ‘gun Nazis’ and said we are going to keep guns out of the stores.”
Lackey added that if a grocery were to ban the open carry of guns, it would require extra signage and security measures that would likely increase wait times and food prices and would likely turn off too many customers.
Sokhey denied that the effort is anti-gun or threatening individuals’ Second Amendment rights. Instead, she claims it’s about making customers comfortable and allowing them to feel safe.
“You are asking the general public to trust that all those folks with guns are good guys. That’s a big leap of faith,” she said.