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Kroger asks customers not to openly carry guns in its stores

Kroger, parent company of QFC and Fred Meyer, is requesting customers no longer openly carry firearms into its stores, even in states where open carry is legal, the company announced Tuesday evening.

The announcement comes just hours after Walmart made a similar announcement. Walmart also said it would end the sales of some firearms and ammunition. Kroger stopped selling guns last year.

Kroger, like Walmart, also said it would add its voice to the growing number of corporations calling on elected officials to pass gun reform laws, such as requiring stronger background checks.

"Kroger has demonstrated with our actions that we recognize the growing chorus of Americans who are no longer comfortable with the status quo and who are advocating for concrete and common sense gun reforms," the company said in a statement.

As mass shootings have grown in frequency, death toll and prominence in recent years, many big companies have faced pressure to address their role in the crisis.

After a shooter in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 people last year, Dick's Sporting Goods announced it would stop selling assault-style rifles. At the same time, Walmart raised the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21. Kroger followed suit, ending all sales of guns and ammunition in its 45 Fred Meyer stores in the Pacific Northwest last March, citing declining consumer demand for firearms. The grocer had earlier stopped selling guns to people under 21 and pulled sales of magazines featuring "assault rifles."

Over the last month, Walmart in particular has faced pressure to stop selling guns after 22 people were shot and killed by a white supremacist inside a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas.

In its statement, Kroger said it would be "respectfully asking" that customers no longer openly carry guns in its stores, except for authorized law enforcement officers. It is unclear whether or how the grocer plans to enforce this request.

Walmart said it will take a "non confrontational" approach to enforcing the new policy by putting up signs announcing the request outside of stores.

Ed Scruggs, president of gun safety advocacy group Texas Gun Sense, said a number of retailers in the state (where open carry is legal) request that customers not openly carry in their stores by posting large signs stating the policy in English and Spanish outside their stores. Store workers can ask customers who do not abide by the signs to return the guns to their cars or leave the store, Scruggs said.

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