It looks like Texas Open Carry and its fellow gun advocates across the country are fed up with blowback from restaurants where they’ve been showing up with semiautomatic assault rifles strapped across their bodies. Now the firearm enthusiasts have a new store in their crosshairs: Target. As the photo above shows, they’re even hanging out in the store’s baby products aisle—and activist group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America isn’t taking the firepower display lightly.
The grassroots organization is petitioning Target executives to issue a gun sense policy: Don’t bring visible weapons in stores. The group, which started after the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, has successfully lobbied Chipotle, Starbucks, Chili’s, Jack in the Box, and Sonic to request that customers not openly carry weapons in their businesses.
On their Facebook page, the mom activists say they have gotten reports of open-carry incidents at Target stores in Texas, Alabama, Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, Wisconsin, and Virginia. That’s because, says the group, “Target, which boasts on its website that between 80 percent and 90 percent of its customers are women, has no restrictions on customers carrying guns in its stores.”
“Moms have their eye on Target because it’s a place we take our children to shop—and we’ve been disturbed by some of the demonstrations that gun extremists have held with loaded rifles inside and outside some stores,” Erika Soto Lamb, a spokeswoman for the organization, told the Wall Street Journal. “Assault rifles have no place in the baby aisle.”
The group says that because many states don’t prohibit people from walking around with loaded weapons, “it’s up to companies themselves to protect their customers when the law won’t.” As with previous campaigns, it has taken to social media, encouraging supporters of the campaign to tweet with the hashtag #OffTarget.
“I just want to buy my socks and lip gloss in peace. I don’t need to live in fear as I decide between Hanes or Fruit of the Loom. #OffTarget,” tweeted user @DiscoChristie. Another, @PaladinCornelia, wrote “.@Target you stopped selling toy guns that look realistic, but you allow openly carried assault rifles? What gives? #OffTarget.”
So far Target doesn’t seem to be swayed.
“The safety and security of our guests and team members is our highest priority,” the company’s spokeswoman, Molly Snyder told the Journal. “Target does not sell firearms or ammunition, and while I do not have information specific to this organization to share, what I can tell you is that Target is committed to following all state and federal laws.”
As for Open Carry Texas, it’s now out to prove that not all ladies—whether or not they have children—are against guns. The weapons advocates have launched their own group, OCT: Women. “This is a brand-new site for women that believe in the quest, along with our great American men, in upholding our constitution—namely our 2nd amendment right as this page puts it as the subject in hand,” reads the first post on the page.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America founder Shannon Watts is optimistic that her group will prevail. “When Americans actually see what’s happening, they get angry,” Watts told the Journal. “Some of this is about showing the public what’s going on and the implication of these lax laws.”