- Hollis Johnson / Business Insider
- Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack supports HR8, a bill that would require background checks for all firearm sales.
- The bill passed in the House of Representatives in February, but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet brought it to a vote in the Senate.
- Citing a swell of public support for the measure, Stack said that he doesn’t understand why Congress has not taken action.
- “It’s not a political hot button any longer,” Stack told Business Insider in a recent interview. “I don’t know what McConnell’s afraid of.”
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Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack wants to know what’s got US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell so scared about gun reform.
Speaking with Business Insider about his new book “It’s How We Play the Game” on October 7, Stack addressed the sporting goods retailer’s pivot away from the gun business. Dick’s ceased sales of “assault-style rifles” – semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 – last year and destroyed $5 million worth of the guns in the wake of the Parkland massacre.
“We found out that we sold [suspected Parkway shooter Nikolas Cruz] a shotgun two months before,” Stack told Business Insider. “When that happened I said, ‘This system is broken. This kid should never have been able to buy a gun.'”
Dick’s pivot on guns earned the retailer the ire of lobby groups like the National Rifle Association, but Stack told Business Insider that moving away from guns has been a “blessing in disguise” and that its first batch of stores to nix firearms has “outperformed” the rest of the fleet.
As part of his company’s ongoing advocacy around gun reform, Stack joined the founder of TOMS, the CEO of Levi Strauss, and the CEO of RXR Realty in signing a letter to Congress advocating in support of the HR8 bill, which would require background checks for all gun sales. The House of Representatives passed the bill in February, but it’s up to McConnell to raise it in the Senate.
“I wish he’d have the guts to bring it to a vote,” Stack said.
Stack went on to question why McConnell and other Republican members of Congress would even be “concerned politically” about backlash against universal background checks. A 2017 Quinnipiac poll found that 94% of respondents supported universal background checks.
“I don’t know how you can cerebrally think about guns and say, ‘Yeah, we don’t need to have a background check. It’s OK,'” Stack said. “Basically, anybody who’s old enough can buy a gun.”
Stack spoke about weak points in current gun regulations, like the gun show loophole, which allows private sellers to sell firearms without running a federal background check.
“I don’t know how anybody can say, ‘Yeah, that’s fine,'” Stack said. “There should be a background check for anybody that buys a firearm. And I don’t know that McConnell will bring it to the floor. I hope he does.”
The NRA is opposed to universal background checks on the grounds that they will be used “to support the implementation of more radical and intrusive gun control,” writes the NRA Institute for Legislative Action’s executive director Chris Cox.
For the 2020 election, the gun rights lobby group has given generously to McConnell. According to The Center for Responsive Politics, he’s received $10,550 from the NRA. That’s second only to President Donald Trump, who has received $16,800 so far.
The archive of the grades that the NRA assigns to politicians reveals that the group considers McConnell’s stance on guns as favorable. He earned a rating of AQ, meaning that he received a grade of “A” based entirely on his “response to the NRA’s candidate questionnaire, in the absence of gun-related votes,” according to gun reform advocacy group Everytown USA.
As for Stack, he believes the fact that Americans are increasingly supportive of universal background checks should be enough to prompt Congress to take action.
“It’s not a political hot button any longer,” Stack said. “I don’t know what McConnell’s afraid of.”