A national sporting goods company that suspended sales of assault rifles after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting that cost 26 lives is now selling the type of gun the shooter used via a new and separate chain of specialty stores.
Dicks’ Sporting Goods issued a statement after the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting, in which Adam Lanza killed 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a Bushmaster assault rifle, that it would suspend the sales of assault rifles.
“We are extremely saddened by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week,” said the statement, “and our hearts go out to victims and their families and to the entire community. Out of respect for the victims and their families, during this time of national mourning we have removed all guns from sale and from display in our store nearest to Newtown and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chainwide.”
Gun control activists praised the chain’s decision at the time. But now Dick’s has opened the first store in a new chain called Field & Stream that specializes in hunting and fishing products, and a call to the store in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania reveals that Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifles are for sale.
“We have a full stock,” said a clerk who identified himself as Gary. He said the guns retailed for $800, and that the gun counter was “really busy.”
Lanza used a .22 rifle to kill his mother at their home, a Bushmaster to shoot 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook, and a handgun to commit suicide inside the school after the shooting spree. Two handguns and the Bushmaster were found with his body, and a shotgun was found in the car he had driven to Sandy Hook. Lanza fired more than 150 shots in less than five minutes from the Bushmaster inside the school.
Dick’s Sporting Goods did not respond to requests for comment.
When the company suspended sales of the AR-15 in December 2012, it had just offered an AR-15 to customers at a discount as a Thanksgiving holiday special. The company cancelled its sales of the guns and offered customers who had ordered them a $100 gift certificate.
Dick’s Sporting Goods, based in suburban Pittsburgh, has more than 500 stores nationwide, most of them east of the Mississippi. The company has plans for second and third outlets of its Field & Stream specialty stores in Kentucky and Pennsylvania. After licensing the Field & Stream trademark since 2007, the company bought full rights to the name on August 1, 2012 for $24.5 million.