Dick’s Sporting Goods Appears to Use School Shootings as Marketing Stunts

The new DICK’S Sporting Goods store at Baybrook Mall in Friendswood, Texas on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. The store is one of six new locations now open for business in the Houston area, two of the locations include the Field & Stream and Golf Galaxy specialty shops. (Photo by Scott …
AP File Photo: Scott Dalton

The ownership of Dick’s Sporting Goods appears to be attempting to leverage the tragic shooting of school children into a marketing opportunity. The company has been exposed for its doublespeak on its decision to stop selling so-called “assault rifles.”

Dicks Sporting Goods, Inc. [NYSE: DKS] announced on Wednesday its decision to not only stop selling AR-15 style rifles, but to jump in the middle of the gun control debate. The statement from the company announced it would stop selling “assault-style rifles, also referred to as modern sporting rifles,” in the wake of the tragic murder of 12 high school students in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day. However, the statement appears to be more of an attempt to leverage the deaths of the children in a marketing campaign or to protect the company’s stock value.

Following the shooting of school students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, Dick’s Sporting Goods “suspended” the sale of “certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles from its chains nationwide,” Breitbart News reported at the time. The announcement followed quickly, the decision by California legislators to divest all pension funds from companies associated with gun manufacturers.

Shortly before the Sandy Hook shooting, Dick’s stock price hovered above $51 per share. In the days following, the price fell to a low point of $45.22 per share. The fall in stock value came after media reports that the Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza, attempted to purchase a gun from Dick’s in Danbury, Connecticut, a few days before. Dick’s leadership responded that their stores did not sell Lanza a firearm. Following their announcement, the stock price began slowing moving upward again.

CNN reported that Dick’s did not make it clear how long the suspension would remain in effect. The news outlet also reported, “It’s also not known whether this is the first time the store has taken such a step after a shooting that made national headlines.”

Following the Sandy Hook shooting, sales of AR-15 style rifles increased, as did the price of the highly popular sporting rifle. Dick’s eventually placed the rifles back onto their shelves–not in its Dick’s branded stores, but its subsidiary Field and Stream stores.

By publicly removing the rifles from its “Dick’s” stores and placing them back into the “Field and Stream” stores, the move appeared to be more of a marketing play than a policy decision to prevent school shootings.

Breitbart Texas confirmed with a manager at a Texas Field and Stream store that AR-15 style rifles were on the shelves on Wednesday and they were instructed to remove them on Thursday.

Following the Las Vegas shooting where the assailant used an AR-15 style rifle modified with a bump stock to increase rate of fire, Dick’s did not appear to make any effort to remove their “modern sporting rifles” from their shelves. By the time of the Las Vegas shooting, Dick’s stock price sat around $27 per share. The shooting did not appear to impact the stock price in the aftermath and the company made no apparent moves to stop the sales of AR-15 style rifles.

Following the Parkland shooting on February 14, Dick’s again became connected when media outlets reported that the killer legally purchased a shotgun from one of its retail stores. The shotgun was not used in the attack and Dick’s has made no move to stop selling them.

Dick’s tweeted, “[The shotgun] was not the gun, nor type of gun, [the gunman] used in the shooting. But it could have been,” Breitbart New’s AWR Hawkins reported.

Instead, the company jumped into the national media spotlight and used the tragedy of the children’s deaths to announce they would, again, stop selling “assault-style rifles.”

Good Morning America caught the fact that Dick’s was removing AR-15 style rifles from its shelves for a second time following a mass school shooting. When the interviewer pointed out their prior announcement after Sandy Hook and asked if the company would later reverse its position, CEO Edward Stack responded, “Never,” Vox reported.

Following Thursday’s announcement, Dick’s stock price jumped by about 2 percent as of the time of this publication.

The company has not responded to inquiries from Breitbart Texas about its policies on selling semi-automatic handguns or other semi-automatic rifles or shotguns that do not look like military-style weapons but do fire at similar rates.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGab, and Facebook.

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