Dick’s, Levi’s and other retail CEOs urge Senate to take action on guns

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Dive Brief:

  • The chief executive officers of more than 200 companies signed an open letter to the U.S. Senate asking it to “take bold urgent action to address our gun violence epidemic” in the wake of deadly mass shootings in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and other cities.
  • Among the signers were the heads of retail and apparel companies, including Dick’s Executive Chairman Ed Stack and CEO Lauren Hobart; J. Crew Group CEO Libby Wadle; Kenneth Cole, chairman and CEO of the eponymously named apparel company; Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh; Lululemon Athletica CEO Calvin McDonald; Poshmark CEO and founder Manish Chandra and others.
  • The Democrat-led House of Representatives passed a sweeping gun reform bill earlier this week. The legislation is widely expected to die in the Senate. 

Dive Insight:

Throughout the letter, the corporate leaders — who dubbed themselves “CEOs For Gun Safety” — did not advocate for any specific measures or gun reforms but rather painted a bleak picture of the heavy toll of endless gun violence in the U.S. 

They cited research showing that 110 people are killed by guns daily and another 200 are wounded. “These shootings happen in homes and at cookouts, in schools and houses of worship, in local businesses and big box stores, and on the streets our children travel every day,” the letter states. “Among the affected are our employees, our customers, and the communities we work in. And our kids: guns are now the leading cause of death among children and teens.”

They also pointed to research showing that gun violence costs the country $280 billion per year, while employers lose a collective $1.4 million per day in productivity and revenue from gun violence. 

Between 2014 and 2020, there were nearly 2,700 mass shootings and more than 100,000 total deaths from gun violence, according to figures from the Gun Violence Archive. Already in 2022, there have been 254 mass shootings and 19,200 total deaths from guns.

With the persistence of mass shootings and gun violence over the years, and the lack of legislation to address the issue, some large retailers moved to limit their sales. Walmart has stopped ammunition sales for handguns and military-style rifles, raised the minimum age for gun purchases to 21, and stopped selling assault-style rifles and handguns. The retailer has also asked customers not to openly carry firearms in its stores in markets where the law allows. (Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was not among the signers of the CEOs For Gun Safety letter.) 

Dick’s also has been gradually pulling back from gun sales, removing the hunting department from hundreds of its sporting goods stores and paring back its Field & Stream banner. Dick’s has also lobbied the government for more gun control measures. 

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