On July 2, Target CEO John Mulligan addressed their policy regarding firearms within their stores. This comes on the heels of the #OffTarget social media campaign, which urged consumers to speak with their wallets and avoid Target purchases until firearms were banned. Mulligan's statement was polite and well-written but vague in both intent and implementation, basically saying "guns aren't welcome." And it's causing some parents, those required to carry by occupation, to wonder just how welcome they are.
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For several weeks, Moms Demand Action has been promoting their #OffTarget campaign, asking parents to use the power of both their shopping dollars and social media to change Target's stance on the open carry of firearms within their stores. "Nearly 90 percent of Target customers are women," Moms Demand Action's website says, "They need to know we expect them to get gun sense."

Target says no to guns

All of that hard work seems to have paid off. On July 2, 2014, Target interim CEO John Mulligan released a statement to both employees and the public regarding the Target firearm policy. In the statement, Mulligan basically says if you carry a gun, you are no longer welcome to shop in their stores. "(S)tarting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target — even in communities where it is permitted by law."

Overall the statement — while very polite — really seems to just be an appeasement to gun control advocates. It neither outright bans guns nor says what will happen if someone comes on the property with one. It's vague on Target's stance on concealed carry, mentioning the open carry issue at one point but not specifying open carry customers as the only ones who should leave their guns at home. And it's ruffled some feathers with a very specific segment of the gun toting population: Parents who are (or were) cops.

Safe to one, not safe to another

First, Mulligan says: "(W)e are asking for help in fulfilling our goal to create an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for our guests and team members." Well, "safe" is a relative term. For some, "safe" means there are no guns anywhere around. But for others, "safe" means having the means to protect their family should the worst occur. Rene, mom of one and retired police officer and military service member says: "I conceal carry. As a retired law enforcement officer I am very aware of how quickly things can go bad before any armed, on-duty law enforcement officers arrive. It truly does take too long for my comfort for a police officer to arrive — five minutes is a very long time — and I am going to protect 'mine' and anyone who happens to be around me who needs it."

This sentiment was echoed by dad of two and current police officer Chris: "My Glock goes with me pretty much everywhere I go… I carry for the simple fact that the (on-duty) police can't be everywhere all the time and by the time they get the call and respond, the critical incident is over. I carry to protect my wife and kids, bottom line."

"Family-friendly" = family protected

The other part of the statement which is rubbing cops the wrong way is this: "Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create." Mom of two and retired deputy Regan said: "A family-friendly environment for me is to be able to protect my family, with a firearm if necessary. If something seriously bad happened they (Target security) wouldn't be able to protect me or my family like I could. And law enforcement is notified after the fact, so I'm not waiting for someone with a firearm to help."

Mom of three and current deputy Tracy said: "I understand the fact that they are a family store, but until recently the movies were a place for families as well and we see what has happened in two movie theaters. I never to go out without my gun and will continue to have it with me at all times. S*** can happen anywhere, in any store. Whenever I walk into a store — Target, Walmart, Winn Dixie, Publix or Macy's — I will have my gun with me in the event I need to protect my children's lives, my families lives, someone else's life or my life."

It's a cop thing...

These parents see things differently than most others. They are taught in their work environment to view everyone suspiciously, to expect everyone to try to harm them, to look for threats around every corner. That way of thinking saves lives in their occupation, and it quickly spills over into their home life as well. When you live where you work — when on any errand with your kids you can end up in line behind someone you arrested the night before — you tend to view the world as a highly volatile place and you want to be sure your family is protected. I know. I used to be a cop too.

"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill every person you meet." These words of Retired General James Mattis were how Sergeant Tony Picardi opened up the very first day of my in-field police training. Sgt. Picardi said them to us for the same reason Gen. Mattis said them to his troops in Iraq: as a reminder to remain vigilant and never let your guard down, even in the company of those whose motives seem pure. Because people with bad intentions are everywhere — even at Target.

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