LL Bean has raised the minimum age to buy a gun — and it’s part of a trend that’s sweeping the industry

Getty/Joe Raedle

  • L.L. Bean has followed the lead of Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods and raised its minimum age for gun sales to 21.
  • Meanwhile, the outdoor retailer REI has said it will stop ordering brands owned by Vista Outdoors until Vista Outdoor reconsiders its policies for its firearm brands.
  • Several retailers have jumped into the debate on guns in the US in the past week.

Retailers are jumping on the bandwagon of implementing new firearm-sales policies.

On Thursday, L.L. Bean announced that after reviewing its policy on firearm sales, it would “no longer be selling guns or ammunition to anyone under the age of 21.”

L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, Maine, was the only store with a license to sell firearms, according to CNN.

But L.L. Bean’s new policy is evidence of a sea change in customers’ expectations of retailers that sell guns.

A man holds a sign at a Walmart in Danbury, Connecticut, in January 2013.

A man holds a sign at a Walmart in Danbury, Connecticut, in January 2013.
REUTERS/ Michelle McLoughlin

On Wednesday – two weeks after the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead – Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that shoppers under 21 would be barred from purchasing firearms from it.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their loved ones,” Dick’s said in a letter to customers.

“But thoughts and prayers are not enough,” it continued. “We have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America – our kids.”

Walmart made a similar announcement later Wednesday, saying it would restrict customers under 21 from buying guns. On Thursday, Kroger said it would also raise its minimum age for gun sales to 21 from 18.

Federal law allows those 18 and older to buy rifles or shotguns and those 21 and older to buy handguns from licensed dealers, while states can make further restrictions.

Beyond raising the minimum age to buy firearms, Kroger and Dick’s said they would no longer sell assault-style rifles like the kind used in the Parkland shooting at the limited number of stores where they were offered.

The wave of policy changes is also touching companies that do not sell guns.

On Thursday, the outdoor retailer REI announced it would stop ordering brands owned by Vista Outdoor – including Giro, Bell, and CamelBak – citing Vista Outdoor’s silence about its plans for its firearm brands such as Savage Arms, which sells what it calls modern sporting rifles.

An employee at a gun store in Delray Beach, Florida, gives a demonstration in January 2016.

An employee at a gun store in Delray Beach, Florida, gives a demonstration in January 2016.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“We believe that it is the job of companies that manufacture and sell guns and ammunition to work towards common sense solutions that prevent the type of violence that happened in Florida last month,” REI said in a statement. “In the last few days, we’ve seen such action from companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart and we applaud their leadership.”

President Donald Trump has expressed support for raising the minimum age to purchase firearms as a way to help reduce gun violence and deaths in the US.

“I’m going to give it a lot of consideration,” Trump said in a meeting with lawmakers on Wednesday. “And I’m the one bringing it up, but a lot of people don’t even want to bring it up because they’re afraid to bring it up. But you can’t buy a handgun at 18, 19, or 20 – you have to wait until you’re 21 – but you can buy the gun, the weapon used in this horrible shooting at 18.

“You are going to decide – the people in this room pretty much are going to decide. But I would give very serious thought to it.”

Trump noted that the National Rifle Association opposes such a policy.

“The NRA is opposed to it, and I’m a fan of the NRA – there’s no bigger fan,” Trump said.

He added: “These are great patriots, they love our country, but that doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything.”