Gun Control Activists Pressure Hy-Vee, Other Retailers To Ban Open Carry In Stores

Sep 11, 2019

National gun control advocates are calling on retailers, including Hy-Vee, to prohibit customers from openly carrying firearms in their stores. The push comes after last month’s deadly shooting at a Walmart in El Paso.

Walmart, Kroger, Wegmans, Aldi, Meijer, Publix, CVS and Walgreens have all said they’ll ask customers to not open carry in their stores.

Activists with Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America want West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee added to that list.

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action tweeted Tuesday, "@Hyvee allows open carry inside its stores. Kansas and Missouri are permitless carry states; their laws allow the open carry of guns without a background check, training or permit. When lawmakers don't protect their constituents, businessess must protect their customers."

University of Iowa political scientist Tim Hagle says it’s logical for advocates to try other tactics if they’re not getting the action they want from lawmakers.

“This makes sense for them to try other avenues to try to get their point across, try to change public views, try to make it harder, for example, in this situation for folks to open carry," Hagle said. "If they don’t like open carry, if all these stores and all these places are not going to let you do that, it’s harder for you to do that.”

Still, Hagle says, the pressure campaign is likely targeted more at exhibiting a show of force, than implementing more meaningful policy.

“That may be then sort of an indirect way of trying to get the legislators to do whatever it is that the goal of the particular group is. In this case it’s more gun control of one sort of another," Hagle said. "And indirectly that may occur by going through the companies rather than necessarily trying to lobby the legislators.”

Hy-Vee's Director of Public Relations Christina Gayman said in a written statemen that customer safety is "paramount" and says the company currently lets its store directors handle the issue on a case by case basis.

"Hy-Vee stores comply with all state laws and local ordinances with respect to guns and gun safety in each of the eight states and 200 or so communities where we do business. Of course, laws do vary," the statement reads. "Since we span eight states, our store directors address each situation on a case-by-case basis, depending on the state and laws specific to that area."

According to analysis by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Iowa, like most states, generally allows adults to open carry, although gun owners need a license to openly carry within city limits.