By Sarah Naron
EAST TEXAS – Following announcements made Wednesday, Feb. 28 by national retailers DICK’S Sporting Goods and Walmart of changes to the stores’ firearms policies, Crockett-based radio station KIVY (92.7 FM/1290AM) revealed Thursday, March 1 that the sale of guns is now prohibited during its morning Swap Shop segment.
“I really don’t have anything to say,” said KIVY Manager Leon Hunt when asked for comment on the station’s decision. “(We) just chose not to continue to have those on.
“There were not very many sold on there, anyway, so (we) didn’t think it was any big deal,” he explained.
According to a statement released by Edward W. Stack, Chairman and CEO of DICK’S Sporting Goods, the retailer will no longer allow the purchase of firearms by any customer under the age of 21. High-capacity magazines and “assault-style rifles, also referred to as modern sporting rifles,” will also be removed from inventory.
“We had already removed them from all DICK’S stores after the Sandy Hook massacre, but we will now remove them from sale at all 35 Field & Stream stores,” wrote Stack.
Stack added that bump stocks which provide the ability for semi-automatic weapons to fire at increased speeds have never been sold by the store, a policy which will continue to be upheld.
“We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognize and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens,” Stack said on behalf of the corporation. “But 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.”
Stack further revealed in his statement that a gun was sold by DICK’S to 19-year-old Nikolas Jacob Cruz – the perpetrator of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting which occurred in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day – in November 2017.
“Following all of the rules and laws, we sold a shotgun to (Cruz),” Stack said. “It was not the gun, nor type of gun, he used in the shooting. But it could have been.
“Clearly, this indicates on so many levels that the systems in place are not effective to protect our kids and our citizens,” Stack continued. “We believe it’s time to do something about it.”
Walmart followed suit, releasing a statement to announce a raise on the minimum age restriction and expressing intentions to “update our processes as quickly as possible to implement this change.”
AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles have not been available for purchase at Walmart stores since 2015. Handguns are also not part of the inventory, “except in Alaska, where we feel we should continue to offer them to our customers.” The corporation does not sell accessories such as bump stocks or high-capacity magazines.
“We are also removing items from our website resembling assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys,” Walmart said in the statement. “Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way.”
Speaking with pawn shops in Houston and Anderson counties, ‘The Messenger’ found that guns will continue to be available for purchase with minimal changes to store policies.
“We sell guns and deal with firearms every day,” pointed out Trey Young, owner of Houston County Pawn and Jewelry in Crockett. “What we will abide by is the laws that the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) provides for us to go by.”
As Young further explained, the final decision regarding gun sales in the store is in the hands of the staff.
“At any point in time that we feel uncomfortable with somebody that comes in wanting to buy a gun – whether it be a comment that they make or anything else – we have the right to not sell anybody a firearm or ammo,” he said.
“We plan on continuing to do just what we do – following the laws of the ATF,” Young finished.
As an employee of the City Pawn Shop in Palestine pointed out, halting the sale of firearms completely would be detrimental to the store’s business overall.
The employee explained that some changes are being made to the store’s gun inventory, including the discontinued availability of bump stocks. When all AR-15s currently in the store have been sold, no more will be accepted.
For Frank Chapman of Chapman’s Hardware in Grapeland, business involving firearms will continue as usual.
“I’m not going to change anything,” he said. “If they make a law where I can’t, I’ll just have to change, but for now, I’m just going to stay the same.”
Chapman expressed his belief that the policies recently adopted by Walmart and DICK’S will not have any positive effect.
“If a guy gets out of high school when he’s 18 years old and he gets married, maybe has a little baby, and he’s 19 and working – he’s got a family, and he’s got a home, and if he wants to buy him a rifle to go deer hunting or whatever, to me, it sounds like he’s grown.
“He can go to war, and they’ll give him a gun when he’s 18,” Chapman pointed out.
According to Chapman, background checks should be conducted on everyone purchasing a firearm, and tougher security measures should be instilled for establishments such as schools and churches.
“That’s the only thing that’ll help,” he said.
Sarah Naron may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.