Publix, a regional grocery store chain with a large presence in Florida and the Southeast, has asked customers not to openly carry firearms in its stores, Tampa's WTVT reports. The retailer joins Kroger, Walmart, and others in introducing similar policies.
In a statement, the company said that an exception will be made for law-enforcement officers.
"Publix respectfully requests that only law enforcement officials openly carry firearms in our stores."The company, which has about 1,100 stores in seven states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia) is based in Florida and has the lion's share of its locations (nearly 800) in The Sunshine State. Florida, however, does not allow open-carry, and so the policy is moot there, as is the case in South Carolina as well. However, in the other states where there are Publix locations, open-carry is allowed, according to Tampa's WFLA-TV.
The move is something of a change of optics for the company, which as recently as a year ago was donating money to political candidates who were endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and/or who opposed gun reform. In fact, in 2018, several protesters, including some of the survivors of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, staged a "die-in" at a Publix location.
With Wednesday's announcement, Publix joins Walmart, Kroger, CVS and Walgreens as major retailers that have asked their customers not to openly carry weapons in its stores.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, last week Walmart made two major announcements when it comes to guns. First, the company asked customers to no longer openly carry weapons in its stores. Second, the retailer announced that it was scaling back the kinds of guns and ammunition it sells.
At one time, one of the largest retailers of guns and ammunition, Walmart has since pledged to only sell certain hunting weapons and their attendant ammunition.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon acknowledged at the time that the move would at once inconvenience some Walmart customers, as well as take a bite out of its market share when it comes to the sale of ammunition.
"We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand. As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same," he wrote.
The decisions of major retailers to ask customers to stop openly carrying weapons in their stores come in the wake of two mass shootings within a few hours of each other, one of which took place at a Walmart.