Kroger is the latest retailer in the cross-hairs of Moms Demand Action, a stridently anti-gun group funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
But so far, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based grocery chain has not succumbed to the relentless assault of phone calls, text messages, petitions, emails and social media barbs tossed its way from the pressure group.
Costco, Starbucks, Target, Chipotle and Jack in the Box all have capitulated to the Moms’ demands by at least partially changing their policies on guns. The companies all announced they would “ask” or “request” that their customers not carry guns while shopping in their stores – far from the actual bans that Moms Demand Action wanted.
Kroger, however, wouldn’t even go that far.
Moms Demand Action had been pummeling Kroger since August with requests for a gun ban, including thinly veiled threats to stop shopping at the chain if it didn’t bow to their wishes and disarm its customers, even those licensed to carry.
It issued a news release saying it intended to deliver petitions on Oct. 3 to Kroger, Harris Teeter, Fry’s and other Kroger-owned stores across Ohio, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
The group claimed to have 300,000 signatures on a petition and urged women to show up at Kroger’s regional headquarters in Atlanta Oct. 3 to turn in their Kroger discount cards if the company failed to give in to their demands. But when the petitions were delivered in Georgia, only a handful of women showed up.
A Kroger manager in Ohio gave the Moms a cold shoulder, refusing to accept the petitions, according to tweets by Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts.
That resulted in responding tweets from conservatives congratulating Kroger for its stance.
“It’s a wonderful thing to see a company like @kroger stand up against the deep-pocketed bullies of Bloomberg’s @MomsDemand,” tweeted a man named Bob Owens on Tuesday.
Kroger corporate officials contacted Wednesday by WND gave no indication they were contemplating changes to their policies as a result of the pressure received from the Moms.
Company spokesman Keith Dailey emailed the following statement to WND:
We recognize the sincerity of beliefs held by people on both sides of the gun issue, which we believe is a public policy issue best determined by lawmakers. Kroger’s policy is to follow state and local laws, and we have requested that all of our customers be respectful of other customers and our associates when shopping in our stores.
A previous statement issued last week also indicated that the company trusts its customers who are licensed to carry to do so responsibly:
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.
Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, issued a statement that seemed to speak for all women on the issue: “When state laws don’t protect children and families, it’s up to businesses that depend heavily on female clientele to put policies in place that protect them on their private property.”
The group’s news release questioned why Kroger allows open-carry of guns in its grocery stores when it bans the practice in its corporate headquarters.
Jerry Henry, executive director of GeorgiaCarry.org, said Kroger is the first major chain he is aware of that has not given any ground to the anti-gun Moms.
“Starbucks did (resist) for a while but then they came back and acquiesced,” Henry told WND. “But if you look at what the other companies did, after they acquiesced they come back within 20 minutes and say, ‘This really isn’t a ban, we aren’t putting any signs up and we aren’t going to confront anyone, we’re just asking.’ So the so-called bans thus far are very hollow victories as far as I’m concerned.”
Henry said Bloomberg’s strategy amounts to a backdoor approach to gun control, using women, who do most of the shopping in stores like Target and Kroger, to pressure the companies into taking sides on a controversial political issue.
The crux of the issue, Henry said, is that “the moms are going out there trying to get the companies involved in things they don’t want to be involved in.”
“They just want to be able to do their business and be left alone and the moms refuse to allow that. And it’s a shame,” he said.
“That’s the sort of thing Bloomberg is trying to do with his money,” Henry continued. “They know they have failed to get legislation passed to stop you from buying a gun and so now they’ve got to go to private businesses and stop you there. They can’t win in the courts, they can’t win in the legislature, so the only thing they can do is try to win by attacking the bank accounts of the businesses. Sounds a whole lot like terrorist threats to me.”
Dan Cannon, owner and editor of GunsSaveLives.net, agreed that the strategy from Bloomberg does not seem to be working very well.
“Moms Demand Action and the Bloomberg camp as a whole have realized they simply don’t have the support or political clout to influence policies at the state or national level so they are resorting to ‘pseudo gun control’ by trying to get corporations to discourage legal gun carry,” Cannon told WND in an email. “They are dedicating tons of resources to these efforts that, as of right now, have not resulted in any real changes.”
No outright bans have occurred to date. But Kroger, which has many of its stores in Southern, conservative states, may not be willing to throw even a small bone to Bloomberg.
“Kroger seems to be one of the first companies that is simply ignoring Moms Demand Action’s bullying tactics,” Cannon said. “However, even the companies that MDA claim as ‘victories’ didn’t really change anything. As far as I can tell, Starbucks, Target, Jack in the Box and others simply asked people not to carry firearms at their establishments. None have actually banned legal carry in their stores or placed anti-gun signage at their locations. They simply issued public statements to placate the anti-gun crowd.
“Hopefully more companies will realize that simply ignoring the Moms Demand Action crowd and following local law is the best solution.”
Henry said that while he sympathizes with the companies coming under relentless pressure from Bloomberg’s well-funded front group, he doesn’t patronize any of the chains that have “asked” him to leave his gun at home.
“They think they have figured out a way to straddle the fence and make both camps happy, but I don’t go to Starbucks anymore like I used to,” he said “At first, when they resisted the moms, I said, ‘Thank you,’ and then when they came out with this policy change I said, ‘No, you don’t really stand up for my rights, so I’m not going to give you my business anymore.’ But we don’t do any boycotts; we just tell people what’s going on and leave it up to the individuals. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, we’re supposed to have free choice in this country.”
Henry said he believes the moms will continue to pressure Kroger a bit longer before moving on to another target.
“I think they will probably continue to try this for a while and then they’ll find a new company,” he said. “I’m a little surprised they haven’t already been to Publix (a Florida-based grocery chain).
“They’re in their own little world spending Bloomberg’s money trying to buy our rights. That’s what’s going on. ”
Last week Moms Demand Action-Georgia hammered its message home with postings on Facebook between Sept. 27 and Oct. 3 under titles such as “Keep calling Kroger” and “Continue calling Kroger.” The site posted Kroger’s phone number and Twitter site and asked its members to flood the company with requests to ban guns from its stores and “keep us safe.”
Some of the Facebook postings were as follows:
CONTINUE TO CALL KROGER: Tomorrow Moms Demand Action-GA will be delivering a petition to the Kroger regional headquarters. We will be letting them know that our Moms are more motivated than ever and we want Kroger to “get gun sense!” Guns and groceries do not mix and Kroger needs to keep hearing from you that groceries without guns makes sense! Keep calling, tweeting and making a difference. Let your voice be heard!
KEEP CALLING KROGER: We’re making waves: earlier this week, three U.S. Senators (Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn.) publicly asked Kroger to prohibit open carry in its stores. Today, our moms are delivering 300,000 of your petition signatures to Kroger stores across the country. We need YOU to show our moms you’ve got their backs. Even if you’ve called Kroger before, please LIKE, SHARE and CALL AGAIN now and let the customer service rep know you’re a mom demanding action.
CALL 888-829-3790 or TEXT 877-877 to be connected to Kroger. Or CLICK here and tell Kroger you won’t be satisfied until they change their gun policy.
The group even set up a separate website with a form that made it easy for their supporters to click and make a mobile-phone call directly to Kroger headquarters. View the site here.
As previously reported by WND, the policy changes at Target and Jack in the Box have done nothing to make the stores safer as numerous violent crimes have taken place at local outlets since the new gun policies went into effect.
The first murder occurred at a Target only weeks after the no-guns request, and there was a string of armed robberies just days after the request. Jack in the Box has had its own set of problems, with armed robberies following its policy of asking law-abiding customers to disarm.