The retailer made the announcement by posting a notice on its website early Wednesday, USA Today reports.
In the past, the retailer has kept a rather neutral stance on firearms in stores, simply saying that the company does not sell guns and follows state and federal laws regarding open-carry.
The company refrained from specifically addressing the issue last month when gun rights activists were spotted carrying firearms inside several Target stores. That move subsequently led led one group to gather tens of thousand of signatures on a petition urging the retailer to prohibit weapons in Target stores.
It’s unclear if the new stance has anything to do with the demonstrations, petition or the fact that a security officer at a Georgia Target found a loaded gun in the toy section of the store last month.
Wednesday’s announcement appears on the retailer’s A Bullseye View blog and asks consumer to help create a safe and inviting experience for others.
Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.
We’ve listened carefully to the nuances of this debate and respect the protected rights of everyone involved. In return, we are asking for help in fulfilling our goal to create an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for our guests and team members.
This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.
The list of companies asking customers to refrain from bringing firearms inside stores has grown considerably this year.
In May, Chipotle announced that it would rather its customers didn’t bring firearms into their stores. Previously, the company abided by local laws regarding open carry and concealed carry in determining whether or not to allow guns into particular stores.
“However, because the display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers, we think it is time to make this request,” explains the statement, which does not appear to be an outright ban but a request from the company to its customers.
Back in 2013, Starbucks issued a similar statement, which also stopped short of actually banning the carrying of guns into the coffee shops. CEO Howard Schultz instead asked “that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas — even in states where ‘open carry’ is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.”