Kroger joins Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods hiking minimum age to buy guns

Kroger (NYSE:KR), the largest U.S. supermarkete chain, said Thursday it will no longer sell guns, which is sells in its Fred Meyer stores, to buyers under 21 years of age, the company told Fox Business on Thursday. The move marks the third major retailer to restrict gun sales in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting that left 17 dead.

Besides raising the minimum age for buying guns, Kroger said it would raise the minimum age to buy ammunition to 21. The company sells firearms at 43 Fred Meyer locations in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

"In response to the tragic events in Parkland and elsewhere, we’ve taken a hard look at our policies and procedures for firearm sales," a spokesperson said. "We follow all state and local laws regulating the sales of sporting-related firearms at our select general-merchandise Fred Meyer stores. Recent events demonstrate the need for additional action on the part of responsible gun retailers. We are raising the minimum age to 21 to purchase firearms and ammunition in all of our Fred Meyer locations that sell firearms. We stopped selling assault-style rifles in our Oregon, Washington and Idaho Fred Meyer stores several years ago and we will no longer accept any special-orders of these weapons in Alaska."

The changes come after the Valentine’s Day massacre that killed 17 — mostly students — at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student who was expelled from the school, allegedly entered the building and killed 17 people, mostly students, with an AR-15. Cruz, who legally obtained the weapon, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is being held without bail.

The change follows a similar move by Dick's Sporting Goods.

“As we looked to what happened down in Parkland [Florida], we were so disturbed and saddened by what happened we felt we really needed to do something,” Dick’s Chairman and CEO Ed Stack told “Good Morning America.”

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Cruz purchased a shotgun at a Dick’s store last November, though it was not used in the shooting.

“We did everything by the book. We did everything the law required and still he was able to buy a gun. When we looked at that we said, 'The systems that are in place across the board just aren’t effective enough to keep us from selling someone a gun like that.'”

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, in which the gunman used an assault-style rifle, Dick’s suspended sales of modern sporting files from its stores nationwide. However, the firearms were sold at Field & Stream, an outdoors store and subsidiary of Dick’s developed in 2013. Under the new policy, the rifles will no longer be sold at any of the 35 Field & Stream locations.

In an open letter to consumers, Dick’s also said it will end the sale of high-capacity magazines and “never have and never will sell bump stocks,” a device that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire at a more rapid rate. The company will also call on lawmakers to “enact common sense gun reform” and pass regulations to ban assault-style firearms, raise the minimum wage to purchase firearms to 21, ban high-capacity magazines, require universal background checks that include relevant mental health information and previous interactions with the law. It also said it would ask politicians to ensure a complete universal database of those banned from buying firearms and close the private sale and gun show loophole that waives the necessity of background checks.

“We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognize and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens,” Stack explained in the letter. “But we have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America – our kids.”

Walmart said Wednesday it won’t sell guns and ammunition to customers who are under 21 years old, following a similar move by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Walmart previously stopped offering modern sporting rifles, including the AR-15, in 2015. The nation’s largest retailer also doesn’t sell handguns, except in Alaska. Those sales will continue, Walmart said.

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The company said it has a process to ensure that its policies are applied to its e-commerce marketplace, where third parties can sell their products. Walmart is removing items that resemble AR-15 rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys.

“We take seriously our obligation to be a responsible seller of firearms and go beyond federal law by requiring customers to pass a background check before purchasing any firearm,” Walmart said. “Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way.”