Academy Sports and Outdoors is pulling modern sporting rifles from store shelves–ARs and other common semi-automatic guns with contemporary features including detachable magazines, adjustable stocks and other modular components–just as recent calls for increased gun control head to Washington. In response, Daniel Defense will no longer work with Academy, and has issued a statement detailing their position.
“As you know we take our partnership with our stocking retailers very seriously,” said Daniel Defense president and CEO Marty Daniel. “We are committed to serving and supplying them at the highest level and expect our retailers to have that same level of commitment to our brand and our industry. Unfortunately, Academy Sports has made a corporate decision, in the wake of the recent terrorist attack, to remove all MSRs from their website and in-store displays.
Other sporting goods stores in the past have made similar decisions, to stop selling or promoting modern sporting rifles and the response is usually negative, leading to losses in both short-term and long-term sales. Dick’s Sporting Goods stands as a good example of a company stalling out or losing business even as gun sales predictably continue to boom.
Time will tell if any other firearms manufacturers will cut ties with Academy Sports but this action is sure to draw a lot of fire from existing and potential Academy customers. Although some may see this as a careful business maneuver a large portion of the gun-owning community will take it as a condemnation of their constitutional rights.
“Academy Sports has communicated that they intend to continue to sell the MSR category of firearms without displaying or advertising them publicly. As a prominent MSR brand, Daniel Defense cannot support decisions that are completely contrary to the values of our company and industry,” said Daniel. “Academy’s decision clearly segregates firearms by their appearance, which sends a dangerous message to our politicians that it’s acceptable to do so. We as an industry must stand and fight.”
Currently Academy will continue to sell these guns but not put them on display or promote them. The policy is not set in stone and may be temporary, although it’s also possible that Academy will just liquidate their remaining modern rifle stock and permanently adopt the new outline.
“Given Sunday’s tragic incident in Orlando and out of sensitivity for the victims, Academy Sports and Outdoors (“Academy”) is taking several steps related to the advertising and display of modern sporting rifles (MSRs),” states a leaked Academy memo called the “Orlando Update.” “We also wanted to take a moment to reinforce several company policies and provide you with guidelines for customer interactions and how to funnel media or policy conversations about modern sporting rifles.”
The memo then instructs all stores to return the described guns to safe storage and remove any “display” tags from their packaging. In addition to pulling these rifles from store shelves Academy is also dropping their airgun and airsoft equivalents–further distancing them from modern sporting rifles, and by extension, many gun owners.
Even if this is an interim policy decision this is sure to have a lasting effect on a large portion of Academy’s consumer base. Gun owners have a long memory for this type of action and have many alternate options when it comes to buying guns and accessories.