Dick’s faced boycott threats when it changed its gun policies — but the majority of America agrees with the retailer

A Dick's Sporting Goods store in Broomfield, Colorado. Dick's Sporting Goods changed its gun-sales policies in February.

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A Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Broomfield, Colorado. Dick’s Sporting Goods changed its gun-sales policies in February.
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Reuters/Rick Wilking

  • Dick’s Sporting Goods faced backlash after it changed its gun policies in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting.
  • However, foot traffic actually increased in the two weeks after Dick’s announced the new gun policies.
  • 73% of respondents polled by MSN said that they agreed with Dick’s decision to stop selling assault-style rifles.

While Dick’s Sporting Goods faced boycott threats after taking a stance on gun control, data suggests that the initial wave of anger hasn’t been backed by action.

On February 28, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would no longer sell assault-style weapons and would stop selling guns to people under the age of 21. The backlash was swift, with employees saying they were quitting the stores and customers threatening to boycott.

The company wasn’t surprised by the negative reactions.

A customer inspects firearms at a gun store

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A customer inspects firearms at a gun store
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Scott Olson/Getty Images

“This issue transcends our company’s bottom line,” CEO Ed Stack wrote in an od-ed in The Washington Post on Wednesday. “We suspected that speaking out would have a negative impact on our business. But this was about our values and standing up for what we think is right.”

However, it doesn’t look like the anger will actually have much impact on sales.

Average daily traffic to Dick’s actually increased by 0.3% in the two weeks after the retailer announced its new gun policies, according to inMarket data. While the company announced earlier in March that sales dropped in the fourth quarter, the quarter ended before Dick’s announced its new gun policies.

The reason that Dick’s traffic hasn’t taken a hit seems to be, quite simply, that most people don’t care.

In a poll conducted by our partner MSN, 73% of all respondents said that they agreed with Dick’s decision to stop selling assault-style rifles. What’s more, the majority of Republicans – 57% – agreed with the decision.

When Dick’s announced its new policy, the company was careful to link its decision to the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and to emphasize it would still sell certain guns. This clarity helped the company avoid much of the potential backlash, John Paluszek, executive producer of corporate responsibility organization Business in Society, told Business Insider at the time.

“You’ve got to explain yourself and you’ve got to do it at the right time,” Paluszek said.

Further, while roughly a third of Americans own guns, most people also agree that there should be new regulation. For example, 73% of respondents in the MSN poll said that they would support laws limiting gun sales to people 21 and older.

MSN Poll results are analyzed to represent the US adult population or specific sub-demographics. MSN describes the US adult population by thousands of combinations of age, gender, education, location and several other demographics. MSN takes the raw polling data and models how demographic groups answered each question, and then projects those answers onto the true distribution of the demographic groups. The method was tested in the 2016 election and proven to be as accurate as other polling methods – more details can be found here.