I didn’t know it, but Kroger is the largest supermarket in the United States. The reason is that the company uses a lot of different names for its outlets. For example, around here in the Bay Area, we have Foods Co. And I have to admit: I liked shopping at Foods Co. But I am more than willing to boycott them. Currently, the grocery chain is being targeted by Moms Demand Action. According to the group, “Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the country, has policies that allow customers to openly carry guns in its stores.” And so they are investing six-figures into an ad campaign using images like the one above.
The idea here is that Kroger forbids skateboards in its stores because they are dangerous. And that is a good policy. But they have no problem with the open carrying of the guns. Most people would agree that people walking around grocery isles with loaded guns is dangerous. But the open carry crowd think it is just fine. And they are freaking out even as they claim there is nothing to see. They claim that it is “bullying.” But then, any political action they disagree with is “bullying.”
This is rich. We have a civilization where we do not need to haul around guns with us. So the ostentation display of guns is a provocative act. But if a mother with her two young children has a problem with some unknown man walking around with a semiautomatic rifle and a 30-round banana clip, then it is her who is the bully. That’s really quite amazing. People don’t have any problem with those who demand that people not do their shopping naked, but the people who request that their children not be placed in harm’s way are bullies. In a sane world, it would be unbelievable. Unfortunately, it is very believable.
One would think that after asking Kroger to change the policy, it would have done so. After all, the vast majority of people do not want to see gun fanatics walking around their grocery stores. But here is the Kroger response (pdf) in full:
It’s remarkable for its cognitive dissonance. They don’t want to put their employees in a position of having to confront people with guns. That makes sense. After all, these people have guns. If politely told of the store policy, these people might go crazy and kill the employee. It is also true that a slow checker might set someone with a gun off. Or another customer accidentally bumping into someone with a gun. This is why people walking around with guns everywhere is a bad thing.
Kroger also asks customers to “be respectful of others while shopping.” The problem is that some idiot walking around the store with a gun is by definition not being respectful of others. He is doing it to get in people’s faces — to make a point. He knows full well that seeing some anonymous man walk around with a gun is upsetting to other people, because they have no reason not to think him a murderer.
But what most impresses me is the false equivalence: “our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue.” That’s right, the vast majority of people who want to shop in peace compared to a tiny slice of the population who just want to be annoying. Even the generic polls that ask people about open carry find strong opposition to it. Let a man with an assault rifle walk through a suburban supermarket and then ask those people what they think of open carry.
Most of civilization is not about laws; it is about norms. In general, you shouldn’t have to have policies against carrying guns into supermarkets and churches. But this is what has become of conservatism in the United States. This is why the Senate filibuster had to be neutered. And it is why gun advocates feel they should bring rifles into fast food restaurants. Conservatism has become revolutionary. They care far more about their own extreme ideology than the niceties of getting along in a diverse society. Just the same, I have little doubt that Moms Demand Action will win this fight and Kroger will fold like a card table.