Dick's Sporting Goods expected 'backlash' but got flowers instead

Dick's CEO: Thoughts, prayers don't do anything
Dick's CEO: Thoughts, prayers don't do anything

Dick's Sporting Goods expected some backlash when it said it would stop selling assault-style rifles. Instead, it got flowers.

"We have been humbled by the calls, emails, tweets and posts of support that so many of you have sent following our announcement on Wednesday," Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) tweeted on Friday. "Our stores are grateful to those of you who have stopped in to share kind words, flowers and donuts."

On Wednesday, Dick's Chief Executive Officer Edward Stack said the stores will stop selling assault-style rifles and high capacity magazines, and that it will no longer sell guns to anyone under the age of 21.

"We know that not everyone agrees with our actions, and we respect that," said the tweet. "Even as strong supporters of the Second Amendment, we feel now is the time to have meaningful discussion about common-sense reform with the intent of finding a solution."

Stack appeared on CNN's New Day this week, where he told Chris Cuomo, "We know there's going to be some backlash."

But he said he was inspired by the bravery of students in Parkland, Florida, who called for more gun control after a mass shooting at their high school last month left 17 people dead.

"We concluded that if these kids are brave enough to organize and do what they're doing, then we should be brave enough to take the stand and that's what we've done," he said.

Dick's was following the lead of Walmart, which stopped selling military-style semiautomatic rifles in 2015. After Dick's announced its decision, Walmart, (WMT) L.L. Bean and the grocery chain Kroger (KR), which sells guns through its Fred Meyer stores, all raised their minimum gun buying age to 21.

Related: Dick's Sporting Goods to stop selling 'assault-style rifles'

The families of nine victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting have asked Bass Pro Shops, which owns Cabela's, to stop selling assault rifles, including the Bushmaster, which was used in the massacre. That rifle is made by Remington, which is planning to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Stack said he decided to tighten the company's gun policy when he learned that the accused Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had purchased a shotgun at one of his stores. Even though Cruz didn't use that shotgun in the Parkland shooting, Stack said the realization gave him and his colleagues a "a pit in our stomach."

Related: A cloud hangs over the gun industry

Cruz allegedly used a Smith & Wesson semiautomatic rifle in the shooting, according to the Broward Sheriiff's Office. The Smith & Wesson brand is owned by American Outdoor Brands (AOBC), which on Thursday reported a 33% plunge in quarterly gun sales and a 65% plummet in earnings.

Gun makers Sturm Ruger (RGR) and Vista Outdoor (VSTO) also reported dismal earnings earlier this year.

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