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Corporations and guns: How companies are reshaping the gun control debate


This article, Corporations and guns: How companies are reshaping the gun control debate, originally appeared on CBSNews.com

Overseeing more than 720 stores in 47 states, Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods, has a multi-billion-dollar empire to run. But Stack is now balancing running a business with his new role as one of the corporate faces of America's gun control debate.

"I don't understand how somebody, with everything that's gone on, could actually sit there and say, 'I don't think we need to do a background check on people who buy guns.' It's just, it's ridiculous," he said.

It's a pretty controversial stand from a company that's been in the gun business a long, long time. His father, Richard Stack, started Dick's Bait and Tackle in Binghamton, New York in 1948. He used a $300 loan from his grandmother's cookie jar to do it. He was just 18. These days he'd probably hardly recognize the place – it's grown from that one tiny location into a nationwide chain, with some stores that are big enough to house the Space Shuttle.

As Dick's grew, it became one of the biggest sellers of firearms. Until, that is, 2012, when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

"Couldn't agree more," Bloomberg said. "But I think the people that say corporate America shouldn't be setting the social policies for the country are right, but corporate America should certainly do some input. They have rights as well."

Four years ago, Walmart announced it would stop selling assault-style rifles, and after this past August, , too. 

CVS, Kroger and Walgreens, among other major retailers, joined Walmart in asking their customers , even in states where that's legal.

Some in the financial sector got involved, too, including Bank of America that said it would stop lending money to certain gun makers.

(CBS News, 4/19/19)

Cowan asked Bloomberg, "Do you sense, now with impeachment in the air, and everything else, that anything is going to get done on gun control anytime soon?"

"You know, a crisis is too important to waste," he replied. "And maybe during this time, they will do some things that they would have never have done before just because they want to divert attention."

Stranger things have happened, but he's not holding his breath.

Last February, . But President Trump has wavered on just what he would actually sign into law.  The bill is on Senator Mitch McConnell's desk.

Which suits Dianna Muller just fine. She said, "Just because Congress isn't doing anything, they're standing up for me, and making legislation based on what I sent them to Washington D.C. for – not what feels good, or what the masses may want."

Nevertheless, Stack isn't waiting. In fact, he may go even further.  He's already removed all guns from more than 100 of his stores, and is considering expanding that ban chain-wide. "We've got the whole category under strategic review to see what we're going to do with this category," he said.

"So, there's a chance you may stop selling firearms completely?" asked Cowan.

"The whole category is under strategic review."

"That sounds like a maybe?"

"The whole category is under strategic review," Stack laughed.

He's not going to show all his cards. What he does know is that Dick's Sporting Goods is changing – and he's counting on the culture changing right along with it.

"So many people say to me, you know, 'If we do what you want to do, it's not going to stop these mass shootings,'" said Stack. "And my response is, 'You're probably right, it won't. But if we do these things and it saves one life, don't you think it's worth it?'"

      For more info:

dickssportinggoods.com"It's How We Play the Game: Build a Business. Take a Stand. Make a Difference." by Ed Stack (Simon & Schuster), in Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, available via AmazonDianna Muller-3 Gun (Facebook)Everytown for Gun Safety

       Story produced by Michelle Kessel.