Commentary

Dick's Sporting Goods Turned Assault Rifles Into Scrap Metal, CEO Says

Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack has a new book out today, and he hit “CBS News Sunday” a few days ago to get people talking about it. That he did, primarily by revealing the retailer had turned about $5 million worth of assault rifles into scrap metal “to keep them out of private hands” after the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February, 2018.

Along with banning high-capacity magazines and ceasing to sell guns to people younger than 21, the retailer had quickly declared then that it would no longer sell assault-style firearms. But it had not revealed it destroyed the assault rifles it had in inventory.

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“I said, ‘You know what? If we really think these things should be off the street, we need to destroy them,'” Stack tells CBS’ Lee Cowan.

“We found out we sold this kid a shotgun and I said, ‘We’re done,’” Stack also says, referring to the 19-year-old former Parkland student charged with the murders. “Even though that’s not the gun he used, it could have been.”

Breitbart News Second-Amendment columnist AWR Hawkins posted an item referring to the interview and Stack’s decision. The National Rifle Association then tweeted about that article.

“The reaction to the NRA tweet was mixed, with several saying they’d shop at Dick's and others against the news,” USA Today’s Kelly Tyko writes.

“‘Thank you for publicizing this very excellent thing that Dicks has done,’ Twitter user @RevAndyKarlson commented. ‘I'm proud to support a company that acts with moral conviction.’”

“‘Exactly why I no longer shop at @DICKS,”' Twitter user @tjomac wrote. ‘They are deceptive in their terminology, trying to be PC and they made stupid business decisions.’”

Newsweek’s Blake Dodge has a different reading on the reaction: “An hour after the NRA tweeted about the interview, hundreds of people declared their plans to buy ‘sporting stuff’ they don’t really need from Dick’s this weekend, while slamming the NRA for not taking action on gun legislation reform.

“'Thank God for the adults in the room who are sick of our children, citizens and law enforcement being slaughtered by military style weapons,’ @Dbfedupsenior wrote in response to the NRA’s post, concluding with the hashtag #NRATerroristOrganization.

“Another user posted a link to one of the country's latest mass shootings where four were shot dead in a Kansas City bar over the weekend. Like a number of more high-profile massacres earlier this year, the police believe this one was racially motivated.

“‘If only US guns were purchased & discharged solely for lawful purposes,’ Dianne Broussard wrote. The ‘NRA pays politicians to block reforms that will fix this,’ she added,” Dodge reports.

CBS’ Cowan also interviewed Dianna Muller, an ex-cop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is now an award-winning professional shooter.

“Is it a fair question to ask why you need a gun like [the AR-15]?” he asks.

“No,” Muller replies.

“Because?”

“This rifle, and any other rifle, kills fewer people than hammers and blunt objects every year, according to FBI statistics,” she says, “so it doesn't make any sense to me that this is going to solve the problem that we are having.”

Stack’s “It’s How We Play the Game: Build a Business. Take a Stand. Make a Difference,” published by CBS’ Simon & Schuster, hits the stacks and Kindle devices today.

“In 1948, Ed Stack's father, Richard, started Dick’s Bait and Tackle in Binghamton, New York, with $300 borrowed from his grandmother. A few years later, Dick expanded to a second location. In 1984, Ed bought the two stores from his father. Today Dick’s Sporting Goods is the largest sporting goods retailer in the country with over 800 locations and close to $9 billion in sales,” the promotional copy on Amazon reads.

The book “tells the absorbing story of a complicated founder and an ambitious son -- one who transformed a business by making it more than a business, conceiving it as a force for good in the communities it serves,” it continues. 

In a "Corner Office" interview with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal, Stack talks about why the company has taken a public stance on firearms. He points out that he’s not alone.

“The majority of the leadership seems to be coming out of the private sector,” he tells Ryssdal. “I’m not sure that’s the way it should be, but that’s the way it is.”

Stack will be on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley,” which airs from 11 a.m. to noon ET, this morning.

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