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MDA oversteps bounds with its Kroger campaign

MDA oversteps bounds with its Kroger campaign (credit: Emily Giedzinski/) MDA oversteps bounds with its Kroger campaign (credit: Emily Giedzinski/)
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In a time in American history when homicide rates are at their lowest in 50 years, it seems inexplicable that anti-gun activism is multiplying at its current rate. For the past two weeks, the Kroger Company has been on the receiving end of a series of unprovoked attacks made by Moms Demand Action (MDA).

The rapidly growing advocacy group against gun violence is currently engaged in an ad campaign against the supermarket franchise’s open carry rules in their stores. MDA — a still-adolescent organization — is proactively persisting in its offensive toward policy change, having no grounds or context beyond the new American gun-conscious standard. The store in the spotlight is located in Cincinnati, only a 15-minute drive from Kroger’s corporate headquarters.

“We are anti-gun violence,” said Michelle Mueller, a regional representative from MDA, in a statement, “and we’ll do whatever it takes .... to create a safer environment.” The organization, fully named Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, was formed in December 2012 in reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and has been bold in its efforts since its conception.

Its most recent victories in the battle against in-store open carry include Target and Starbucks. Both are stores with no history of gun violence. Already, the group claims that 100,000 people have signed its petition to prohibit open carry in Kroger supermarkets.

The inflated ad campaign aimed at Kroger began on Aug. 18 and was revitalized on Sept. 4, now focused not only on stores located in states with laws permitting open carry, but nationwide. The unnecessary MDA ads have been displayed in newspapers and billboards throughout the Cincinnati area, displaying people carrying long guns next to people eating food or skateboarding with the caption “One of Them Isn’t Welcome at Kroger. Guess Which One.” These ads reveal the superficiality in MDA’s grasp of the compromise in public safety caused by the open carrying of firearms.

Despite a wave of media in opposition to Kroger — including the hashtag #GroceriesNotGuns — few spokespeople from the company have commented on MDA’s actions, except by referring to a previously released company statement, asserting that the safety of the customers and associates is possible while not infringing on the rights of citizens who choose to carry. “We know that our customers are passionate on both sides of this issue and we trust them to be responsible in our stores,” the statement reads.

Despite the lack of response from the company under fire, MDA leaders continue to speak out and have deservedly started to land in hot water for it. The aforementioned MDA representative has stated that at least 16 shooting deaths have occurred at or surrounding Kroger locations; however, she has yet to provide any evidence backing this claim.

The MDA also has no membership revenue, instead funding its political momentum with a $50 million donation from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. While sound in mission, the organization seems to lack effective leadership and policy, epitomized in the group’s tendency to fudge attendance numbers in their support rallies since April.

Kroger is firm in its position of defending the right of its customers to carry guns in its stores. The push to limit firearms in public places, especially those serving families and children, is understandable in our current gun-reactionary society, but it may not be successful if spearheaded by an organization with leadership like MDA’s.

Though Moms Demand Action has a great track record for changing the open carry policy of companies with formidable national presences, Kroger may be justified in refusing to compromise with a group that has yet to prove it deserves its growing social and political influence.