National group calls for Target to ban open carry of firearms

Moms Demand Action launches petition after demonstrations in Texas

By Scott Johnson - Reporter, Francine Frazier - Senior web editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A national organization is locking in on Target as the focus of its latest petition to ban customers from openly carrying guns inside stores.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America launched the petition Wednesday, responding to demonstrations in Texas and other states by Open Carry, a gun-rights group.

Open Carry members demonstrated at Target stores in Texas by openly carrying rifles and assault weapons inside the stores and posting photos online.

Moms Demand Action has already successfully petitioned other businesses, including Starbucks and Chipotle, to ban customers from openly carrying firearms in states where open carry is legal.

In Florida, it's illegal to openly carry firearms unless you're hunting or fishing, but there are states where it's legal for licensed gun owners to openly carry anywhere, including Georgia.

"What we're asking Target to do is the same as we've asked other businesses to do and that is to just not allow the open carrying of guns in their stores," said Chryl Anderson, head of the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action. "For safety reasons, of course, because we do not know when someone comes into a store with a gun whether this is 'good guy' with a gun or 'bad guy' with a gun."

Anderson also said that states that allow people to openly carry loaded weapons don't necessarily require permits, training or background checks, so it's impossible to be certain someone carrying a loaded firearm into a store knows how to properly handle the firearm.

While openly carrying a firearm is against the law anywhere in Florida, Anderson said the Florida chapter of Moms Demand Action is concerned about all states.

"Gun laws in America affect us across the board," Anderson said. "The fact that we have such a hodgepodge of inconsistency in our laws from state to state, we are concerned, moms are concerned with making sure that our children in our communities are safe wherever they are."

But gun rights proponents don't view it the same way. Eric Friday, lead attorney for the group Florida Carry, said the pictures from the Texas Targets were a form of protest by gun owners over a law that prohibits the open carry of handguns but not rifles.

"They actually don't want to carry any weapon at all," Friday said. "The reason these cases are happening in Texas is because Texas prohibits open carry of handguns. I was just on the phone with one of the leaders of Open Carry. They would love nothing more than to carry holstered handguns where they shop and do business. But Texas doesn't allow them to do that. Texas allows them to open carry rifles."

Moms Demand Action said the group is not anti-gun or anti-Second Amendment, but the members want what they call responsible rules for where weapons can be displayed.

Target did not respond to Channel 4's request for a statement about the petition.

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