A major national sporting goods chain has reportedly ordered many of its stores to stop displaying AR-style semi-automatic rifles after a terrorist shot more than 100 partygoers at an Orlando, Florida, night club, killing 49.
Several news outlets are reporting that Academy Sports+Outdoors, which has more than 200 stores throughout the South and Midwest, has required its stores to pull AR-15 rifles from their shelves and display cases “out of respect for the victims of the Orlando tragedy,” The Tennessean newspaper reports. Customers may still purchase AR-style rifles at Academy Sports, but must ask for them specifically from sales staff, reports say.
Other news outlets reported that store managers were also asked to take down the personal information of any customer who purchased more than 10 boxes of “assault rifle caliber” ammunition. Other stores are reporting that the company ordered them to remove anything from the shelves that looks like an AR-15, including novelty items, lighters and air rifles.
So far Academy Sports has not commented publicly on the news reports.
Academy Sports is the latest in a string of big-box retailers to shy away from AR-15 and other “high-capacity” firearms sales. In August, Walmart announced it would no longer stock AR-style rifles or “self-defense” shotguns after a New York City church unsuccessfully sued the retail giant to force it to pull guns with a magazine capacity of more than seven cartridges from its shelves.
And in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders, Dick’s Sporting Goods temporarily pulled AR-style rifles from its sales shelves for several months in 2013.
In Washington, some lawmakers are calling for a renewal of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004, and are also forwarding new rules to bar Americans on the FBI’s so-called “terrorist watch list” and “no-fly list” from purchasing firearms. The Orlando terrorist was reportedly removed from the watch list after the FBI found no evidence he had ties to militant groups.
A renewed Assault Weapons Ban faces a political uphill climb as millions of the popular AR-style rifle have been sold since 2004, with recent polls showing a majority of Americans don’t want the government to bar AR sales.
Reports indicate the recent Academy Sports policy on displaying AR-style rifles is temporary, and it is unclear when the rifles will return to the stores’ shelves.