Media outlets were abuzz today when Dick’s Sporting Goods announced plans to stop selling assault-style rifles in its Dick’s stores and at its 35 Field & Stream stores.
The New York Times reported that Dick’s also would remove all AR-15s and other semiautomatic rifles from its websites. However, a visit to Dicks.com and Dick’s-owned FieldandStreamShop.com today still shows firearms listed for sale. As of 1:55 Central Standard Time, Dicks.com was still showing local store availability for assault-style rifles. Dick’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At most online retailers that sell firearms, shoppers can’t complete the full purchase of a gun and have it delivered. Consumers must have their firearms shipped to a licensed firearms dealer, and then that dealer is responsible for checking the consumer’s gun ownership credentials.
An analysis of Internet Retailer data finds that online retailers that market firearms and related accessories online are gaining sales and traffic.
Internet Retailer has identified 21 online retailers of guns and ammunition based in the U.S. that each sold more than an estimated $30 million on the web last year.
Traffic to many of these top e-retailer sites has increased since the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., school shooting. In the 12 days since the shooting, from Feb. 15 to Feb. 26, website traffic increased for 16 of the 21 sites, in comparison to the 12 days leading up to the shooting (Feb. 3-14), according to an Internet Retailer analysis and traffic figures from web measurement firm SimilarWeb Inc.
Collectively, total visits to 21 top sites that sell guns (including DicksSportingGoods.com) reached 45.0 million in the 12 days after the shooting, a 7.4% increase compared with 41.9 million visits in the 12 days leading up to the shooting.
The sites that experienced the biggest increase in visits were:
- AimSurplus.com—a 41.8% increase
- Scheels.com—a 39.1% increase
- DicksSportingGoods.com—a 17.5% increase
When it comes to advertising firearms online, Google’s advertising policy clearly bans guns and gun accessories from advertisements. However, it doesn’t explicitly say sites selling guns can’t advertise non-gun products.
Facebook has a similar policy. It bans direct gun ads on the social platform. While a retailer can sell firearms on a site linked through a Facebook advertisement, the linked page can’t directly lead to firearm products.
“We at Dick’s Sporting Goods are deeply disturbed and saddened by the tragic events in Parkland. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones,” Edward Stack, chairman and CEO, Dick’s Sporting Goods, No. 56 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, wrote in a statement Wednesday morning. “But thoughts and prayers are not enough. We have tremendous respect and admiration for the students organizing and making their voices heard regarding gun violence in schools and elsewhere in our country. We have heard you. The nation has heard you.”
Stack goes on to write that Dick’s discovered it sold a shotgun to the alleged Parkland shooter in November 2017. “It was not the gun, nor type of gun, he used in the shooting,” he writes. “But it could have been. Clearly this indicates on so many levels that the systems in place are not effective to protect our kids and our citizens.”
Stack then outlined that Dick’s:
- Will no longer sell assault-style rifles, also referred to as modern sporting rifles. “We had already removed them from all Dick’s stores after the Sandy Hook massacre, but we will now remove them from sale at all 35 Field & Stream stores,” he writes.
- Will no longer sell firearms to anyone under 21 years of age.
- Will no longer sell high-capacity magazines.