Major sporting goods stores wade into gun debates


by Andrew Weiss

Several major sporting goods stores, headlined by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart, announced plans to limit gun sales at their locations. Dick’s announced its plans via social media on Wednesday morning, hitting Twitter and Facebook feeds with their new prerogative revolving around firearms.  

Walmart followed suit that night, adding onto its previous decisions regarding firearm sales.

The announcements come just weeks after the shooting in Parkland, Flordia left 17 dead. The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15 assault-style firearm, also known as a semi-automatic sporting rifle.

However, while the end of assault-style rifles occurs in Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart stores across the country, in Connecticut it is the age restriction that hits hardest. The sale of assault-style weapons has been banned in Connecticut since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. The incident, when 20 children and 26 total people were killed, sparked cries for gun reform that were met with changes to magazine size sales, registration of certain firearms, and background checks for potential buyers.

The increase of age as a restriction is another step in the way for potential Connecticut gun owners. Emilio Zullo, a junior at Quinnipiac, works in the lodge section of Dick’s Sporting Goods. He sells anything from hunting and fishing goods to hiking and camping materials to, yes, firearms. As a gun owner himself, Zullo acknowledged the increase in steps it takes for a gun owner in Connecticut to purchase or own a firearm.

“In Connecticut specifically, there’s an ammo certificate, there’s a pistol and revolver license, and there’s a long gun license,” Zullo said. “You have to apply for different (types of registration) and they’re expensive. You have to take classes.”

According to Zullo, the hurdles associated with obtaining a gun in Connecticut are different in bordering states.

“When you have to pay over $100 just to get a license, it’s a bit ridiculous," Zullo said. "In New York, I don’t have to pay to get a license, only a pistol permit. If I want to buy a rifle, I have to pay $150 to be certified (after classes) to buy a rifle.”

Zullo could not comment on the Dick's ruling, stating only that employees were instructed not to speak on the issue.

Some Quinnipiac students were happy to see the change.

"I think it is a good step in the right direction. I am glad that private companies have decided to do what the federal government won’t," Marc-Yves Regis, a Quinnipiac junior, said.

Owen Kingsley, a senior at Quinnipiac, agreed.

"I love the decision from Dick's regarding assault rifles," Kingsley said. "It's not a huge factor by itself when it comes to the accessibility of assault rifles, but (it is) a possible decision that could trigger larger legislation in that area. I'm hoping it creates pressure on others to act."

Dick’s stock has dropped since the Parkland shooting on Feb. 14, dropping 1.85 points to a total of 31.80 on Feb. 27 before the announcement. The stock has been growing since then, climbing more than .6 points back up.

Gun owners in Connecticut have been vocal on the decision. For more, Bill Ruocco delved into how gun enthusiasts are responding to these rulings.