The Assault on Assault Rifles

On Feb. 28, Dick’s Sporting Goods took a direct approach to gun control and stopped selling assault rifles and high-capacity magazines at all locations. The franchise also raised the minimum age to buy a gun to 21 and changed numerous other store policy items following the Florida shooting.

Dick’s response to school shootings is not unprecedented. Back in 2012, after the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, Dick’s Sporting Goods removed assault rifles from their stores. Now, the ban includes stores that were exclusively intended for hunting supplies.

The CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, Edward Stack, was deeply upset about the Florida shooting particularly because one of its retailers had sold a gun to the shooter. He said in a press release that  “The systems that are in place across the board just aren’t effective enough to keep us from selling a gun like that … and so we’ve decided we’re not going to sell the assault-type rifles any longer.”

Stack found the activism from high school students very inspiring. In the same press release, he stated that “It’s time to do something about it.

However, Dick’s Sporting Goods isn’t the only business taking steps to ensure better gun control. Walmart also issued a statement explaining that they will also raise the minimum age to buy a gun to 21 and that they will not sell sporting rifles, bump stocks, high-capacity magazines or any similar items. They are also not selling any toys that could be mistaken for this kind of weapon.

Walmart concluded their statement with: “Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way.”

Courtney Dauzat, a elementary education major and junior at UNO, agrees that these corporate actions are a step in the right direction for gun policy. “I think you should be 21 to buy a gun and that [at] 18, [it] shouldn’t be an option,” said Dauzat.

Meredith Knauer, a senior psychology major at UNO said, “I think it’s good; these changes should have been done a while ago. I hope that more stores follow these trends.”

However, guidelines aren’t always clear, Knauer explained. “There’s a lot of debate on what is an assault rifle,” she said.

Many pro-gun users claim that there’s technically no such thing as an “assault rifle,” and that the debates about banning these kinds of guns are simply anti-gun propaganda. The gun industry defines an assault rifle as a weapon designed for military use, which has the ability to switch between semi-automatic and fully automatic ability. The guns that civilians use, even the common handgun, all have a semi-automatic capability. This leads to discrepancies in the arguments and allows room for the idea that there is no such thing as assault rifles.

Numerous students from the Florida incident are keeping up with their activism. Those who wish to stand with them can join a planned walk-out on March 13 on campus. Students nationwide will leave class at 10 a.m. for 17 minutesone minute for each of the Parkland victimsin order to show their support for stricter gun laws.