Kroger is asking shoppers to leave their guns home – stopping short of banning the “open carry” of firearms in states like Ohio and Kentucky where it is legal.
The retailer also endorsed laws strengthening background checks and for keeping guns out of the hands of people deemed at risk of waging violence.
The Tuesday announcement comes after rival retailer Walmart made a declaration and follows a wave of mass shootings that have struck at both retailers and across America.
“Kroger is respectfully asking that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores, other than authorized law enforcement officers,” Cincinnati-based Kroger said in a statement Tuesday. “We are joining those encouraging our elected leaders to pass laws that will strengthen background checks and remove weapons from those who have found to pose a risk for violence.”
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Kroger’s former policy, like many retailers, was to follow local and state laws on whether to permit gun owners to carry a firearm slung over their shoulder or holstered in a hip.
In states like Ohio and Kentucky that don’t explicitly ban the open carry of firearms, it’s up to the property owner to establish what’s permissible in stores.
The Enquirer, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, wrote about Kroger’s policy in August following a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso that killed more than 20 people.
The Enquirer reported that retailers generally allow shoppers to bring weapons despite the fact that nearly half of mass shootings (45.6%) occur in business settings, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Last year, Kroger announced its Fred Meyer stores in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington would stop selling firearms and ammunition.
Contributing: Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY
Follow Alex Coolidge on Twitter: @alexcoolidge.