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Publix Asks Customers To Avoid Openly Carrying Guns

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Lakeland-based Publix, which has a large presence on the First Coast, is the latest major business to request that its customers not openly carry guns.

"Publix respectfully requests that only law enforcement officials openly carry firearms in our stores," Publix spokesman Dwaine Stevens said in a brief statement to WJCT News.

Florida is one of the states where openly carrying a gun is prohibited, according to the Giffords Law Center. But Publix also operates in states that do allow registered gun owners to openly carry firearms, including Georgia.

Publix faced backlash last year after giving more than $600,000 to then Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, who at the time called himself a “proud NRA sellout.”

That led to a #BoycottPublix campaign, which led to the grocery chain's issuing a statement saying it was evaluating its processes to “ensure that our giving better reflects our intended desire to support a strong economy and a healthy community.”

Publix joins a growing list of businesses that have made announcements concerning guns following a rash of mass shootings across the country.

CVS and Starbucks have made similar requests of their customers, and earlier this month, Walmart announced it would dramatically cut back on sales of ammunition and asked shoppers to refrain from openly carrying firearms in its stores.

"As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote to employees earlier this month, NPR reported.

In August, 22 people were killed in a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, an incident that's being treated as domestic terrorism. And four days earlier, a disgruntled employee killed two Walmart workers in Southaven, Miss.

Last year, Walmart also stopped selling guns and ammunition to people younger than 21 on the same day that Dick's Sporting Goods announced that it would stop selling military-style rifles and end sales of guns and ammo those under 21.

At the time, Dick's took a political stand on the issue, with CEO Ed Stack's calling for "common-sense reforms," stricter background checks and other changes to gun laws. The shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland had purchased a different gun, not used in the shooting, at Dick's.

WUSF Public Media contributed to this report

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Photo used under Creative Commons license.