In the face of rampant gun violence in America, it has been all too easy to feel helpless, hopeless, like there is nothing your average citizen can do to make any kind of real change. Last week, one company proved that this isn’t true after all.
As a result of the Parkland shooting earlier in the month, Dick’s Sporting Goods released a statement, announcing that not only would they continue their ban of automatic weapons in their hunting department, but also that they would pull them from the inventory of their Field and Stream locations as well. They also announced that they would raise the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, stop sales of high capacity magazines, and call for comprehensive gun control on a legislative level. The line from their press release that shouted their thinking loudly and clearly: “We have heard you. The nation has heard you.”
I have never been more proud to be a former Dick’s employee (I worked there in college). This is a corporation that was willing to make a dramatic declaration of values, at the risk of offending some of their customers, because they believed that what was right was more important than what was profitable. They were willing to demonstrate that, in this case, we don’t have to wait for the law to change to make a change to our lives and the way our country functions.
The ball, though, is now in many other courts. First and foremost, customers have the chance to vote with their wallets and support the behavior. We have the chance, in the form of our business, to demonstrate our support for a company that went out on a limb to do what they believed in. In the next six months, many eyes will be looking to the profits the company produces, as an indication of who is boycotting and who is supporting. We, as consumers, have to show that we are willing to use our money to show what we care about, and demonstrate that being socially conscious is not only the moral thing to do, but it can be financially beneficial too.
Meanwhile, it is up to other companies to follow in the footsteps of Dick’s. While not all stores have such a first-hand impact on the way that we distribute weapons in this country, there are plenty of businesses that have an opportunity to use a moral foundation for the way they run a company, and to demonstrate that to be a thoughtful element of American culture is to be a profound power figure on the landscape of the economy.
And, of course, it is time for the government to finally listen to the cacophony of voices that are making it known that our country is in need of healing and reform. If a company likes Dick’s is willing to put their profits on the line to prove a point and to live out their values, it is damn well time that those empowered in our government to do the same. According to Politico, ⅔ of Americans believe we need a change. With a mandate that strong, it is time to do something. It is time to take action. It is time to use Dick’s Sporting Goods as a model for what it looks like to do what is right, even when doing what is easy is so much more available.