Target not in Alabama gun groups’ crosshairs


FIRESTORM: Members of Open Carry Texas ignited a heated discussion about open carry rights after wearing their rifles into Target stores in the state.

By Johnny Kampis |

CULLMAN, Ala. — Alabama gun groups don’t plan any demonstrations inside Target stores like those seen in Texas, and some even argue those protests were “counterproductive” to the open carry cause.

OFF-TARGET? Demonstrations by members of Open Carry Texas in Target stores aren’t supported by all open carry groups.

Target last week asked its customers not to carry firearms into its stores, including in communities where open carry — when the gun is visible, instead of concealed — is permitted.

Interim CEO John Mulligan wrote on the official Target blog that “this is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.”

Target’s message came in response to members of Open Carry Texas walking through the aisles carrying purchases such as cookies while high-powered rifles hung from their shoulders. The group was calling attention to the fact that while the Lone Star State will allow them to carry such long-barreled guns on their backs it is one of only six states that won’t permit open carry of small handguns.

The Minneapolis-based chain also likely felt pressure from the Michael Bloomberg-backed Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which gathered 400,000 signatures on a petition calling for Target to dissuade customers from bringing guns into its more than 1,700 stores.

Mike Godwin, owner of Mike’s Gun Shop in Pinckard, told Alabama Watchdog the Target demonstrations crossed the line and were “counterproductive to the cause.”

“There’s some common sense involved,” said Godwin, who has helped organize meetings of Alabama Open Carry. “Walking around Target with an AR-15 is a little much. You’re disturbing the peace. You’re alarming people.”

Northport resident Eddie Fulmer, co-founder and president of Bama Carry, said he “can see both sides of the coin.” On one hand, Target is trying to provide a comfortable shopping environment. On the other hand, members of Texas Open Carry are fighting for their Second Amendment rights.

“They’re trying to make a statement,” Fulmer told Alabama Watchdog.

The Texas demonstrations were evidently the work of a loosely formed group of Open Texas Carry members rather than the organization as a whole. Open Texas Carry released a statement saying it would continue “to honor our months long policy of not taking long arms into Target stories or any other business … Interfering with or making a scene at private corporations is something to which Open Carry Texas has never lowered itself, a practice we will maintain.”

Neither Godwin nor Fulmer has heard of any planned demonstrations in Alabama, which allows the open carry of long firearms, despite heated Internet forum discussions among state gun owners on the topic.

NO GUNS: All Cadence Bank locations in Jefferson County are among the list of businesses that prohibit firearms inside.

NO GUNS: All Cadence Bank locations in Jefferson County are among the list of businesses that prohibit firearms inside.

Although he said he’s “disappointed” in Target and that he’d “rather them say nothing,” Fulmer said Bama Carry isn’t “planning on taking any action.”

“We have nothing planned in Alabama,” Fulmer said. “Nothing has changed in Alabama.”

Instead, his organization has developed a crowd-sourced database on its website compiling lists of businesses in each county that openly prohibit firearms.

Godwin said Target has a right to ask customers not to bring firearms into its stores.

“Target’s a private company,” he said. “They can do what they want.”