Dick’s, Walmart Raise Minimum Gun Purchasing Age to 21

Two large-scale gun sellers jump into a national gun control debate that shows no signs of slowing down. But is it just a good PR move?

Rifles lined up for sale at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store. (Courtesy Image)

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reopened in Parkland, Florida Wednesday, two weeks after a school shooting left 17 dead.

On the same day, two leading American gun sellers announced plans to raise their gun purchasing ages to 21 years old. Dick’s Sporting Goods beat Walmart to the punch, announcing a slew of new company guidelines as the Parkland students stepped into their first classes since the massacre.

“When we saw what happened in Parkland, we were so disturbed and upset,” Edward Stack, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, told The New York Times. “We love these kids and their rallying cry, ‘Enough is enough.’ It got to us.”

Dick’s, including its offshoot Field & Stream, announced its stores will stop selling guns to anyone under 21. The retailer also said it would no longer sell assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines. Later in the day, Walmart joined Dick’s commitment. The nation’s largest retailer also bumped its minimum guns and ammo purchasing age to 21, along with announcing it will stop selling items that look like assault-style rifles, like toys and air guns.

The announcements mark the largest victory to date for gun control advocates since the school shooting survivors, turned gun control activists, of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sparked a national gun control conversation, leading many to claim “this time’s different.”

These kids are everywhere. They launched the #NeverAgain Twitter hashtag to push for new gun laws. Other students trekked down to Tallahassee, Florida’s state capital, to rally for state-level gun control legislation. More students attended a CNN town hall where they blasted the NRA and Florida lawmakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio, on national television.

Wednesday’s revelations by Dick’s and Walmart arrive as a growing list of corporations have cut ties with the National Rifle Association in the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland. The list includes MetLife insurance and antivirus software maker Symantec. Delta and United airlines; and Avis, Hertz, National, Enterprise and Alamo rental cars have joined in the boycott.

But some say it’s all a conveniently-timed public relations act. The announcement correlates almost too perfectly with the reopening of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It also turns out the alleged school shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, legally purchased the assault rifle he used in the shooting from Dick’s. Either way, the conversation shows no signs of letting up.

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