Dick’s Sporting Goods former CEO defends company’s anti-gun stance despite costly backlash

The ex-CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods defended the company’s moves to restrict gun purchases at its outlets as a reaction to a 2018 school shooting, a decision that cost the popular retail chain tens of millions of dollars.

Dick’s Executive Chairman Ed Stack was among the corporate leaders appearing at NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show in New York City this week and on Monday, he stood by the move that pleased gun-grabbing leftists but alienated loyal customers.

Stack said that it is important for the retailer to “to really step up and make a statement” when it comes to certain issues, according to Fox Business.

He told NRF CEO Matt Shay that the country is “holding businesses accountable for how they view different issues in the world, how they run their businesses, how they treat their employees, how they treat the communities that they serve.”

Stack said that if corporations can make a difference in what goes on in the world, they “should stand up and say something.”

Dick’s implemented its new restrictive firearms policies after mentally disturbed teen gunman Nikolas Cruz went on a rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day 2018, a massacre that claimed the lives of 17 people and energized anti-Second Amendment activists and their media allies as they rarely have been before.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the then-CEO learned that Cruz had purchased a shotgun from one of the company’s locations and although the weapon wasn’t one of those used during the slaughter, it was enough for Stack to restrict gun sales to persons under 21-years-old and stop selling AR-15 style “assault” rifles because the killer should “never have been able to buy a gun.”

(Video: YouTube/CBS Miami)

“We knew the system was broken. So we needed to really stand up and try to make some changes,” Stack said.

“We knew that there was going to be some very real blowback from that and there was,” he said. “But listen to those kids who survived Parkland and listen to those parents that lost a child… we needed to stand up and say something.”

“We found out that we sold this kid a shotgun,” Stack said in an October 2019 interview with CBS News. “That’s when I said, ‘We’re done.'”

In addition to the restrictions, the company destroyed around $5 million worth of inventory.

“I said, ‘You know what? If we really think these things should be off the street, we need to destroy them,'” Stack said, telling CBS that the company had lost “About a quarter of a billion! Pretty close.”

“Starting his retail career at a young age, executive chairman Ed Stack has led DICK’S Sporting Goods through decades of remarkable growth with tremendous business acumen and ingenuity. His story demonstrates how the retail industry is unmatched in its opportunity and impact. Throughout his tenure, Ed has stood by his convictions and dedication to making a difference,” NRF 2024 states on its website.

“In this fireside chat, Ed will talk with NRF President and CEO Matt Shay about his insights and experiences in leading the largest omnichannel sporting goods retailer in the U.S., guiding the company’s evolution from two stores in upstate New York launched in 1948 to a multi-brand Fortune 500 company. Attendees will hear about DICK’S mission to create confidence and excitement by inspiring, supporting and personally equipping all athletes to achieve their dreams,” the website reads.

Chris Donaldson

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