After images of gun-toting activists in Target Corp. stores spread online through social media, a gun-control advocacy group is urging the Minneapolis retailer to ban firearms at its stores.
A petition launched this week by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group created following the Newton, Conn., school shooting, has now garnered more than 10,000 signatures.
"Target is a central part of the lives of American moms," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. "We support the 2nd Amendment, but people walking through the aisles flaunting their loaded weapons ... is unacceptable. How can we, or the store's employees or law enforcement, possibly know if they are good guys or bad guys?"
Gun-rights activists have pressured retailers and restaurants to act with recent open-carry demonstrations at Chipotle, Sonic drive-in restaurants and Jack in the Box. Starbucks Corp. last year asked customers to not bring firearms into its coffee shops but did not issue an outright ban.
In a statement, Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman, said that "the safety and security of our guests and team members is our highest priority."
Snyder said stores follow state and federal laws regarding the open-carry of firearms. She pointed out that Target does not sell firearms or ammunition.
Many states allow gun owners to openly carry weapons in public places, but the patchwork of state and federal laws varies widely. In California, for instance, openly carrying firearms is generally restricted. Exceptions exist for unincorporated areas in counties with fewer than 200,000 people.