Dick’s Sporting Goods has destroyed more than $5 million worth of assault-style rifles since it stopped selling the weapons in 2018, CEO Edward Stack told CBS News.
In response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the sporting goods retailer has significantly scaled back its gun business. It stopped selling guns to customers younger than 21 and removed assault rifles and high-capacity magazines from all of its stores in February 2018. In April 2018, a spokesperson for Dick’s said the company was in the process of destroying all firearms and accessories as a result of the policy change.
In a Sunday interview, Stack told CBS News that Dick’s remaining assault rifle inventory was turned into scrap metal. “I said, ‘You know what? If we really think these things should be off the street, we need to destroy them,’” he said.
Stack has emerged as one of the most vocal executives leading the gun control debate. He’s hired three lobbyists from Glover Park Group to push for gun control in Congress and announced in March that Dick’s would stop selling firearms at 125 locations — roughly 17 percent of its stores. The company would decide to expand upon this policy depending on how the 125 stores performed, the Washington Post reported.
The Parkland shooting was a turning point for Stack, who discovered that the shooter had purchased a shotgun from Dick’s (although that shotgun wasn’t used in the shooting).
“That’s when I said, ‘We’re done,’” he said. “Even though it wasn’t the gun he used. It could’ve been.”
Dick’s previously said it would destroy firearms at its five distribution centers in accordance with federal guidelines and regulations. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, weapons can be completely melted, shredded, or crushed. The destruction method must make the firearm “not restorable to firing condition and is otherwise reduced to scrap.” An unserviceable weapon — one that isn’t working adequately or unfit for use — is still regulated as a firearm under federal law.
As Chavie Lieber reported for Racked, many companies opt to return an unsold product back to the manufacturer. Dick’s decision to destroy its gun inventory — and publicize that fact — signals the retailer’s commitment to its role in the gun control debate. After the Parkland shooting, Stack wrote a statement that the company posted on Twitter.
“We have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us,” the statement read. “Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America — our kids.”
But thoughts and prayers are not enough. We have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America – our kids. https://t.co/J4OcB6XJnu pic.twitter.com/6VoKwJe8tH
— DICK’S Sporting Goods (@DICKS) February 28, 2018
Stack has said that as a gun owner himself, he supports the Second Amendment. The company briefly pulled assault rifles in 2012 after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.
Still, Dick’s corporate stance in the aftermath of Parkland drew harsh criticism from the gun rights community. The National Shooting Sports Foundation revoked the company’s membership and the National Rifle Association accused the retailer of “punishing law-abiding citizens.”
Stack told CBS that he thought the company would lose a quarter of a billion dollars after changing its firearm policies — and its losses came pretty close, he admitted. In an August earnings call, however, the Washington Post reported that the retailer’s sales jumped 3.2 percent in the second quarter, which is its strongest since 2016.
Dick’s corporate activism doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In September, Stack and 144 other top corporate executives sent Senate leaders a letter urging Congress to expand background checks on gun sales and issue stronger “red flag” laws. While companies who signed the letter are aware of the potential for backlash, they acknowledged that their requests are in line with public opinion. Recent polls show that Americans across party lines support initiatives that could reduce gun violence.
Stack said that Dick’s is conducting a “strategic review” of their firearms sale “to see what we’re going to do with this category.” He didn’t deny the potential for a chain-wide ban. Halting gun sales at Dick’s might not prevent another mass shooting, he admitted. “But if we do these things and it saves one life, don’t you think it’s worth it?”
Sign up for The Goods’ newsletter. Twice a week, we’ll send you the best Goods stories exploring what we buy, why we buy it, and why it matters.