In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre last December, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would no longer stock or sell “modern sporting rifles,” the category of weapon used in the shooting, at any of its 511 stores out of respect for the victims. But following a drop in gun sales and a huge uproar among customers, will the country’s largest sporting goods chain find a way to keep its promise and its profits?
Dick’s announced last month that it will be opening a spin-off store called Field & Stream that will sell a variety of outdoor goods.
Among those goods, one gun blog claims, will be modern sporting rifles. According to Firearm Blog, ”Field & Stream will be stocking modern sporting rifles (semi-automatic rifles). I can confirm that they will be selling Bushmaster AR-15 rifles (M4 ORC and others), Remington AR-15s (R15, R25), S&W AR-15s (M&P 15 Tactical and others), as well as Stag and DPMS AR-15s.”
The blogger, who also refers to himself as Dictator in Chief, did not say how he obtained that information. However, a majority of the 61 commenters on the post immediately began blasting the sporting goods titan, including this particularly cutting slam: “Honorable? Dick’s? Remember Dick’s is not just their name, it’s how they do business.”
So we decided to contact Dick’s ourselves. But after numerous phone calls and emails, the company would not answer our questions about whether Field & Stream would stock the discontinued rifles. Instead, a spokesman from the PR company Catalyst IMG contacted us by email with a press release. He declined to be quoted on record, answered none of our questions and said only that the first Field & Stream will open Aug. 16 in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.
The press release states, “The Field & Stream store will offer an assortment of outdoor equipment, accessories and services in hunting, fishing, archery, camping and more.”
The firearms the Dictator in Chief lists were among those pulled from Dick’s shelves after a gunman used an AR-15-style Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle to murder 20 children and six adults before taking his own life during the school massacre on Dec. 14, 2012.
Dick’s continued to stock other guns and hunting rifles in its stores after the shooting, but the company still took a financial hit, though it’s unclear if that was a direct result of the decision to drop the modern sporting rifles. Sales dropped 2.2 percent in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2012 compared with 2011. The move also angered some customers who had submitted pre-paid orders for Troy Rifles, including AR-15s. Those customers got refunds or gift certificates.
Without company confirmation, there’s no way to know whether Field & Stream will be selling the modern sporting rifles. That is, until Aug. 16, when customers can walk into the store and inquire.