Target Officially Rejects Assault Weapons in Its Stores

The retailer is the latest corporation to tell open-carry activists to keep their guns off the premises.

Facebook: Screen shot

A month after images first surfaced of pro-gun activists flaunting semiautomatic rifles at Target stores, the retailer has become the latest US company to officially reject firearms in its outlets.

“Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so,” Target said in a statement Wednesday. “But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target—even in communities where it is permitted by law.”

The move follows weeks of pressure from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which used social media, online petitions, and protests at Target stores to call for such a change.

Still reeling from its disastrous failure to secure customers’ personal data, Target leaders “were really nervous” after the gun issue emerged, a person with direct knowledge of the company’s discussions about it told me. “This was the last thing they needed.” Still, the company endured weeks of negative attention on the issue, even as Texas authorities and one of Target’s corporate strategic partners made clear that Target was trying to stop the guns from coming in.

Target joins a growing list of corporations—including Starbucks, Jack in the Box, Chipotle, Sonic, and Chili’s—that have reacted to demonstrations by open-carry activists by announcing that they don’t want people carrying guns on their premises.

Whether open-carry activists will comply with Target’s request appears to be an open question. One of the first to comment on Target’s posted statement was Kory Watkins—a leader of a Texas open-carry group that’s conducted provocative demonstrations, used disturbing intimidation tactics against women, and harassed a Marine veteran—who said he plans to pack heat at Target “today and tomorrow and whatever days I want.”

Carrying rifles on display in public is legal in Texas, although regulations governing Target’s sale of alcoholic beverages forbid guns on their premises, and armed patrons who don’t leave upon request could be subject to criminal trespassing charges, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

For more of Mother Jones’ award-winning reporting on guns in America, see all of our latest coverage here, and our special reports.

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.