Fleet Farm has been on my mind. On a recent visit I browsed their gun section. I noticed several assault-type weapons for sale. I took a picture, put the pic on Facebook and got hundreds of responses overwhelmingly opposed to the sale of these weapons of war. So I sent letters to the local manager and to their corporate HQ in Appleton, Wisconsin. See an earlier blog which contains the script of the letter. The response of the Executive Vice President points a way forward for GVP and the power of the customer and concerned people. Here are a few snippets.
“We hear from many people on both sides of the assault-style semi-automatic rifle debate. All are passionate in their arguments – arguments that often transcend constitutional questions, and focus on what is best for society, what is right under religious tenants, and what is best for their families.
Fleet Farm has always been a strong second amendment company, but at the same time has always taken gun issues seriously. The Mills brothers, for decades, refused to carry even though legal, devices such as bump stocks or lower receivers without serial numbers which were designed to get around gun laws. Also, under existing law, while sellers can legally sell if they don’t hear back from the FBI background check within three days, Fleet Farm always refused to sell without a positive ‘OK to sell.’
The occurrence of mass shootings provoked internal discussion about whether we should carry assault-style rifles. In the end, though, our customers made the decision for us. We have seen sharp reductions in customer demand for this style rifle, and we are now phasing them out from our product line-up. In the near future you will no longer see them in our stores.
All the best to you. Thank you for caring enough to write.”
Executive Vice President-Fleet Farm
I see several learnings in Frank’s letter. 1) Customer demand matters. If people like a product, Fleet Farm will continue to offer it for sale. If people do not demand the product, thereby making it unprofitable for the company, the company will remove it from their inventory. Basic supply and demand; 2) Fleet Farm listened to letters and opinions from its various interests; 3) FF had raised the bar for authorized selling, beyond a slow FBI NICS response; 4) FF had decided to not sell accessories that would maximize a weapon’s lethality, banning bump stocks and lower receivers; 5) FF had received communication from others who objected to these sales on religious grounds; 6) Mr. Steeves was kind enough to respond; 7) To FF’s credit they were aware of national trauma surrounding assault-type weapons.
The bottom line is people stepping up, calling and writing letters of concern have mattered to FF management. Furthermore, people deciding to NOT purchase these weapons of war made a difference. National outrage against the sale of these weapons made an impact on management. In short, PEOPLE made the difference. We the people demanded change and FF decided to halt the sale of these weapons of war.
Christians are called to give witness to Christ. Many have stepped up. Let us continue.