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Moms take gun issue to the grocery store

Members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are taking their pro-reform campaign to Kroger, the country's largest supermarket chain.
A woman exits a Kroger supermarket in Detroit.
A woman exits a Kroger supermarket in Detroit.

Groceries, not guns.

That is the tagline for the most recent push by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America against another retailer to change its firearms policy. But this time, the appeal has arrived in the food aisles of the country's largest supermarket chain — Kroger.

Following seven separate victories among coffee, fast-food, and clothing companies, Moms Demand Action requests that the business stands up for public safety by prohibiting customers from carrying guns into locations across the country.

The pro-reform members created their petition, made public Monday, following demonstrations involving armed citizens openly carrying guns at Kroger stores in Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio.

"Given how lax the majority of states' open carry laws are, there is no way for store employees or Kroger's loyal customers to know whether these gun extremists are good guys or bad guys," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

Legislation regarding the open carry of handguns varies by state; local governments can enact regulations banning the action in a specific area within its jurisdiction, as long as management posts signs alerting patrons to the rules.

A Kroger spokesperson responded to the new campaign, expressing the company's trust in its customers to act 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," Keith Dailey wrote in a statement.

Kroger, which operates in 34 states and the District of Columbia, is the nation's largest supermarket chain and the second largest retailer in the country. The company's sales last year totaled $98.4 billion.

Moms Demand Action, based in Indiana with chapters throughout the country, succeeded previously in persuading other large businesses to change their gun policies, including Target, Sonic Drive-In, and Chipotle. They began the campaigns last fall with Starbucks, less than a year after the 2012 massacre inside Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 first-grade students. The moms, along with members of Everytown for Gun Safety, continue to make personal pleas toward elected officials in their advocacy for stronger gun-control laws ahead of this year's midterm elections.

Much of the grassroots organization's campaigns are based on the loophole in the federal background checks system, which currently doesn’t require unlicensed private sellers to perform background checks on prospective purchasers nor to maintain records of the sales.