Is Trader Joe’s Banning Guns From All Its Stores?

Robert Jonathan - Author

Feb. 20 2016, Updated 12:55 p.m. ET

A gun control group’s tweet that supermarket chain Trader Joe’s is banning customers from carrying guns into its stores has contributed to some doubts over the company’s actual policy.

The Michael Bloomberg-funded Everytown for Gun Safety took to Twitter this week to announce that “Trader Joe’s says no guns in their stores.” Bloomberg, the former NYC mayor and a Democrat turned Republican turned Independent, is considering a third-party run for the presidency in 2016.

The tweet may not be taking into consideration the state-specific nature of laws that apply to licensed gun owners as they related to open versus concealed carry.

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Everytown for Gun Safety is a nonprofit organization which advocates for gun control. Everytown was founded in 2014, combining Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Partnering with Cosmopolitan, the women’s fashion magazine, Everytown recently launched a gun control initiative called “Singled Out” that, among other things, appears to discourage single women — the publication’s key demographic — from dating gun owners, a.k.a. “gunsplainers.”

As the Inquisitrpreviously explained, Trader Joe’s is a chain of specialty grocery stores that was founded in 1958, in Pasadena, California, by Joe Coulombe. As of last year, 457 Trader Joe’s grocery stores were spread out across the country. Most of the Trader Joe’s are in Southern California, though they now boast stores in over 40 states. In 1979, Trader Joe’s was purchased from Joe Coulombe by the same German company that owns the Aldi grocery stores in the U.S. The chain states that all of its private-label products contain no artificial flavors, preservatives, trans fats or MSG. It also states that its dairy products are only made from milk obtained from cows that were not given the artificial growth hormone rBST.

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Parenthetically, trader Joe’s announced about a week ago that it is gradually switching to cage-free eggs in response to customer feedback.

While Everytown claimed on social media that similar customer feedback prompted it to ask customers who are licensed to carry firearms to leave their guns at home, this may not be the whole story.

According to what a PR rep told Forbes, however, Trader Joe’s follows local laws as far as guns are concerned.

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“In general, at Trader Joe’s, the policies we create and follow are for ourselves and cover our own behavior. We have an explicit policy that prohibits our Crew Members (employees) from possessing firearms—or any other type of weapon—while performing job duties, while on company property, or while at company-related events. We do not presume to control our customers’ behavior through grocery store policy…

“We feel gun policy should be addressed by governmental and law enforcement agencies.

“To be clear, we do not welcome weapons of any kind in our stores and never have. While there are laws in place allowing for openly carrying firearms, we would very much prefer that customers not bring guns into our stores.”

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The new Texas open carry law, which took effect on January 1, allows private businesses to ban firearms from their premises, which is a policy that Trader Joe’s is apparently following (as are several other food competitors in the Lone Star State) by posting appropriate signage at store entrances.

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Retailers around the country have implemented different policies on guns where provided by law; some similarly follow state/local statutes and regulations about concealed carry and those guns in plain sight, others specifically prohibit firearms altogether, or request that customers leave them at home. Given that licensed concealed carry is just that (concealed), even some of those who support gun rights may find open carry in stores and restaurants somewhat disconcerting, which may explain why state/local laws often provide a certain degree of flexibility to private businesses in establishing policies for employees and customers.

Krogers, America’s largest grocery chain, “has always insisted it follows state and local laws, meaning shoppers can openly carry firearms in most of its stores,” Forbes added.

Do you agree with Trader Joe’s state-specific policy on guns in their stores as well as its preference for a gun-free zone?

[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]


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