Shannon Watts, paid spokeswoman for Michael Bloomberg’s Moms Demand Action gun control campaign, had planned to continue her crusade against companies that white suburban soccer moms care about by demanding that Kroger ban firearms from their stores. She had seen some marginal success with the likes of Starbucks and Chipotle, and she expected to be able to roll right along and declare a marginal victory with Kroger as well. Unfortunately for her, Kroger wasn’t playing ball. In a statement released Saturday, Kroger essentially told Shannon Watts to go away and stop bothering them.
Kroger – the world’s third-largest retailer, with more than $100 billion in annual sales – is the group’s biggest target yet. Company officials say Kroger just wants to sell groceries, not enter political debates.
“Our long-standing policy on this issue is to follow state and local laws and to ask customers to be respectful of others while shopping,” Kroger said in a statement. “We know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue, and we trust them to be responsible in our stores.”
There’s two things that we can take away from this latest refusal of a large corporation to bow to the demands of Moms Demand Action.
First, Moms Demand Action is nowhere near as powerful as it thinks it is. MDA had won some marginal victories with smaller shops, and the best they had gotten so far was a polite request for people to not bring guns into their stores. No one had banned guns as a result of Shannon Watts’ demanding, and it looks like no one will. The reason: there’s no consequence. If the stores had banned guns, they risk losing their gun owning customers. But if Moms Demand Action didn’t get their demanding way, then there’s no ill effects. MDA’s supporters aren’t nearly as rabid as the gun owners, and sales wouldn’t have been hurt. There’s no bite to Shannon Watts’ bark, and stores are starting to realize this.
Second, Moms Demand Action’s strategy is failing miserably. The plan seems to have been to slowly get more and more businesses to ban firearms in their stores, thereby creating a new normal and ostracizing gun owners. Key to this plan was getting the stores to play along, and they aren’t taking the bait. They know where their bread is buttered and are steering well clear of this whole debate. It could be that they understand the Constitution better than Shannon Watts and realize that what she is doing is wrong, but more likely they see Hobby Lobby as a shining example of a store taking a stand on an issue and losing big time in the court of public opinion.
Moms Demand Action is already a dying brand. Bloomberg has spent a ton of money trying to get their Everytown for Gun Safety campaign off the ground because he sees the end in sight for MDA already. This is just one more nail in the coffin, but unfortunately we’ll probably see more of Shannon Watts for at least a couple years. News organizations love MDA for the optics — white suburban housewives demanding an end to the horrible and despicable gun violence. It’s great TV, and so MDA will be kept on life support for no other reason than CNN wants someone to talk to when they want to push their gun control agenda.
We know the truth, though. Moms Demand Action has lost their fight, and they’re running out of steam.