Dick’s Sporting Goods has removed all of the guns from its store closest to Newton, Connecticut and is suspending the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles from all of its stores nationwide.
The store made a statement Tuesday morning saying that the move was made out of respect for the victims and families of last week’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting during this time of “national mourning”. They didn’t indicate how long the suspension would be in place.
The Sandy Hook shooter was thought to have tried to purchase a gun from the Dick’s Sporting Goods store nearest to him, but the store has no record of a sale to him.
Sporting good stores refer to semi-automatics as “modern sporting rifles,” which evokes a hunting rifle meant for hunting. However, the weapon used in the Sandy Hook shootings was modeled after the M-16, which was developed for U.S. troops in Vietnam. Furthermore, the 1994 federal law banning assault weapons provided specific protection to 670 types of hunting rifles and shotguns, so these weapons are not the same.
Jim Zumbo, a long-standing writer for Outdoor Life magazine, explained the difference in 2007:
“I call them “assault” rifles, which may upset some people. Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. I’ll go so far as to call them “terrorist” rifles. They tell me that some companies are producing assault rifles that are “tackdrivers.”
Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting. We don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I’ve always been comfortable with the statement that hunters don’t use assault rifles. We’ve always been proud of our ‘sporting firearms.'”
This ad for the semi-automatic assault weapon used in the Sandy Hook shooting also explains the difference between a real sporting rifle and an assault weapon (note: anyone drawn to this weapon/ad probably should not have an assault weapon for obvious reasons):
I don’t recall this happening after previous mass shootings. One thing this tells us is that this store does not want to be branded with the horror of the Sandy Hook massacre. Thus, we see the power of public opinion in the “free market”. This means that gun control supporters might have more power than they realize right now, if they can keep the issue in the public’s mind long enough to shame our legislators more than the NRA scares them.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.