Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack is being coy, if not predictable, about a third-party presidential run.
The businessman who recently announced he (possibly illegally) destroyed $5 million worth of modern sporting rifles and cost his publicly-traded company a quarter billion dollars, is reportedly working with focus groups to wade into the presidential political pool. It’s exactly what you do when you’re peddling a book to make up for those financial losses.
Stack, author of “It’s How We Play the Game,” is reportedly testing the temperature to see if he’s hot enough – or cool enough – to play spoiler between the eventual Democratic nominee and President Donald Trump in 2020. Presumably, Stack would attempt to co-opt the gun control message after it’s already failed for U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and former Congressman Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-Texas) who both used the debate stage to voice plans to forcibly confiscate lawfully owned semiautomatic rifles.
In full disclosure, Dick’s Sporting Goods was a member of NSSF. The Board of Governors unanimously voted to expel the sporting goods store in 2018, not because Stack decided they didn’t want to sell modern sporting rifles, but because his company hired a Washington D.C.-based government affairs firm, for “[l]obbying related to gun control.”
He wasn’t content to simply make decisions for his own company, which is his prerogative. He wanted to force his decisions on the entire industry. NSSF has largely left Stack and Dick’s Sporting Goods out of gun control conversations since. However, Stack’s move to push himself into the political arena changes the calculus.
According to Politico, a focus group message-tested themes involving Stack and “showing leadership.” by halting modern sporting rifle sales following the tragic murders in Parkland, Florida. Stack, a billionaire, has been ramping up his media profile, recently calling on U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring up misguided gun control legislation for a vote and going on CBS News to promote his new book. It seems like writing a book has become a constitutional requirement for running for president.
The focus group reportedly didn’t offer high praise for Stack, questioning his age (he’s 64), and his lack of charisma.
Limiting Rights is Bad Business
We’ve got our own concerns and they’re drawn directly from Stack’s record of business decisions. These should give every American a good idea of what Stack thinks of their rights, whether it’s related to guns or otherwise.
Stack is entitled to make business decisions for his company, regardless of how misguided they might be. But turning those poor business decisions into public policy that would deny Americans their rights is an entirely different conversation.
As CEO, Stack made the following anti-gun decisions:
- Ended the sale of all semiautomatic modern sporting rifles at Dick’s Sporting Goods following the tragic Sandy Hook murders.
- Extended that ban on AR-15s to include Field & Stream Stores following the Parkland murders.
- Barred the sale of standard-capacity magazines at all stores.
- Unilaterally imposed age-based gun bans on law-abiding Americans under the age of 21, regardless of state and federal age-discrimination laws.
- Removed firearms and hunting items altogether from 125 locations.
- Hired a Washington D.C. lobbyist to impose strict gun control and ban an entire class of firearms.
- Supports “No-Fly, No Buy” watchlists that deny gun rights without recourse and would serve as an “early warning terrorist notification system.”
Stack is quick to assign blame for the horrendous criminal actions of individuals to the firearms industry. Worse, he embraces policies that clearly tell the law-abiding American public he doesn’t trust them to exercise their God-given rights. Much like fellow billionaire and perennial presidential pretender Michael Bloomberg, he’s in favor of government nanny-state oversight and corporate overlords to make daily decisions.
One Libertarian Party advisor said Stack’s name has come up as a possible candidate, but that hardly jibes with the party’s platform of severely limiting government intrusion. Stack’s flirting with a presidential foray isn’t serious. It’s not even about enacting gun control. It’s worse.
Stack is only serious about boosting book sales to recoup the crushing debt from his anti-gun campaign.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel at National Shooting Sports Foundation.