Within three days of a new policy asking customers not to bring their guns to Target stores, reports have surfaced of armed attacks on customers.
Two Target shoppers at two different stores in Georgia have been robbed by armed thugs since the discount retailer announced on July 2, in a letter from its CEO, that it would “respectfully request” that customers leave their guns at home when they visit Target. Spokeswoman Molly Snyder said it was not a ban on guns, just a “request” that the Minneapolis-based retailer hoped its customers would honor. She said no signs would be posted banning guns, nor would any customer legally carrying a gun in Target stores be asked to leave.
On the very same day that CEO John Mulligan issued his public statement, a man was robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of a Target in Gainesville, Georgia.
Three days later, on July 5, a woman in the Edgewood area of Atlanta had just parked her Mercedes Benz in a Target parking garage and exited her vehicle when she was approached by a black man who punched her in the head, knocking her to the ground. He took her purse and car keys, then warned her to “stay on the ground or I will f—ing kill you,” according to police reports. He then put her car in reverse and would have run her over if she hadn’t rolled out of the way, she told police. She said she obeyed his commands, according to Decaturish.com.
Just days earlier, the Gainesville Police Department arrested three men on charges of robbing a man of his cash at gunpoint in the parking lot of the Target on Shallowford Road in the city about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.
Officers were able to get a vehicle and suspect description, according to police spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook. The alleged robbers were arrested later that same day. The victim, Kyle Bledsoe, reportedly had more than $500 cash on him. Officers confiscated one handgun when they made the arrest, Holbrook said.
Jerry Henry, executive director of GeorgiaCarry.org, said he thought Target made a poor decision.
“That’s what happens in gun-free zones,” he told WND. “They actually should be called victim-enrichment zones because that’s what they are. If anyone wants to commit a crime with impunity, take your gun where there are no guns. You can do what you want, get in and get out and there’s nobody to stop you.
“If you notice where most of the so-called mass shootings are happening, they’re in gun-free zones,” Henry continued. “You don’t see them at gun shows or at gun stores. You don’t see people walk in there and start shooting. They’re not going to do it because they know everybody in there is armed.”
Mulligan’s message to Target customers asking them to keep their firearms at home appeared July 2 in the retailer’s online magazine which, as irony would have it, is named “A Bullseye View.”
The alleged gunpoint robbery in Gainesville occurred about 6 p.m. on July 2, followed by the Atlanta robbery on July 5.
Mulligan said in his letter that the company had “studied the nuances” of the gun-rights issue from both sides and decided that it didn’t want its customers to carry weapons into its stores, “even in communities where it is permitted by law.” Georgia is one of those states where carrying a gun at a retail store is legal for those possessing a concealed-carry permit.
Mulligan said this was a complicated issue, but the company’s decision came down to its belief that carrying firearms at Target “creates an environment that is at odds with the family friendly shopping and work experience.”
The carefully worded statement stopped short of banning guns.
“As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit ‘open carry’ should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target β even in communities where it is permitted by law.”
Henry, the GeorgiaCarry.org director, said he believes Target issued the “no guns” request in an effort to assuage Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is pushing for stricter gun-control measures in both the public and private sectors.
“Moms Demand Action was bombarding them with calls and letters telling them that they needed to change or they were going to leave and go elsewhere (to shop),” Henry said. “They were getting a lot of pressure from Bloomberg’s group, and now they’re going to be pressuring somebody else to make the same kind of statement. This will go on until his money runs out.”
Snyder told WND she could not disclose who the company may have consulted with prior to making its decision.
“We typically don’t discuss interactions with specific groups or individuals,” she said. “However, what I would say is that we received feedback from our guests who have shared their varied perspectives on this topic.”
Henry said his group held a “We beat Bloomberg” party when Georgia’s HB 60 law went into effect July 1 and he told Georgia Carry members, “Now we’re going to celebrate with a big sugary drink,” since “he [Bloomberg] wants to ban those, too!”
The former New York mayor infamously led a campaign to restrict the sales of soft drinks there to 16-ounce sizes and smaller. It recently was thrown out by the courts.
Target’s new policy follows that of Starbucks and other major retailers that have issued similar policies. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz used the same language in a September 2013 letter to customers in which he made a “respectful request” that they not carry guns in his stores.
“Most of them, especially the large companies, say ‘we follow the state law, if you’re allowed to carry you can do so,’” Henry said. “Starbucks started off the policy that Target just adopted, saying we’re not going to ban guns but we request you don’t bring them. Bloomberg’s ladies, the Moms Demand Action, call it a ban. ‘Oh yay, we won, we got bans approved for the stores.’ That’s what they say. But it’s not a ban. They got the companies to issue a letter saying we don’t want you to bring them in here. Target even followed up with a statement saying, ‘This is not a ban, but we just ask you not to bring your guns in here.’”
Henry said he believes at least two groups are operating in Georgia with financial backing from Bloomberg.
“He’s paying a couple of groups down here. One is Moms Demand Action and the other is Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” he said.
Henry said he refers to the latter group as “Illegal Mayors Against Guns” because its members are far more likely to commit a felony than any licensed gun holder in states like Georgia or Texas.
“Somebody did the math, and if you are a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns then you are 82 times more likely to commit a felony than a licensed gun holder in Texas,” he said. “If you Google ‘gun owners against illegal mayors’ you’ll see all those mayors who have been convicted of or arrested (on charges of) felonies.”
Target’s no-guns “request” sparked more than 4,800 customer comments on Target’s website. The back-and-forth debate between Second Amendment advocates and gun-control progressives reached a fevered pitch.
“Thank you, Target for displaying #gunsense and promoting public safety as a civic duty,” wrote S.K. Boss of Arkansas.
“Public safety is removing my ability to defend myself? Are you on drugs?” responded another customer, Bob Jones.
Boss then struck back with the comment that only police should be allowed to carry guns in a “civilized” society.
“Civilized societies hire police for this purpose (of protecting the public) and don’t rely on random individuals among us,” Boss wrote. “If you are a cop, thanks for taking on that task. We all appreciate the work you do.”
Georgia’s new law, known as House Bill 60, went into effect July 1, allowing permit holders to carry in shopping malls, stores, restaurants and government buildings where there is not a security checkpoint.
“The timing of our announcement was in no way tied to the new law in Georgia. As our interim CEO John Mulligan noted, this was something the leadership team had been monitoring for some time,” said Snyder.
Henry likes to remind skeptics that very few businesses, even those owned by gun-control advocates, will post a sign advertising that guns aren’t allowed.
Taco Mac, an Atlanta-based Mexican eatery, did that several years ago and it backfired.
“Theyβd been in business for 29 years and never had a robbery,” Henry said. “After we passed our update to the Georgia carry laws in 2008 allowing us to carry in restaurants that served alcohol, as long as we didn’t consume alcohol, Taco Mac posted a sign, and within nine months they had their first robbery.”
In fact, there have been four robbery reports in the few weeks after the change was announced.
One incident was in Liberty, Texas. Only a few weeks earlier, a Jack in the Box in northwest Houston was hit. The second in the series also was in Houston, but the first one after company officials announced their changed policy, only about a month ago, was in Tennessee, where a man was shot in the restaurant’s parking lot.
The incidents began shortly after an anti-gun group, Moms Demand Action, put pressure on the company to ban guns.
Jack in the Box announced the new policy with an explanation: “Creating a warm and inviting environment for all of our guests and employees is a top priority for Jack in the Box. The presence of guns inside a restaurant could create an uncomfortable situation for our guests and employees and lead to unintended consequences. While we respect the rights of all our guests, we would prefer that guests not bring their guns inside our restaurants.”