PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It was just after the Sandy Hook attack that Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack made the decision to pull AR-15 assault rifles off the stores’ shelves.
“All we were going to do is just take it off the shelf and not say anything,” Stack says in an interview with CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan for CBS Sunday Morning.
He also details the decision in his new book “It’s How We Play The Game,” which was released Tuesday.
“We thought we’d get a little bit of a backlash, but we didn’t expect to get what we got,” Stack remembers.
“You know, all this about how we were ‘anti-second amendment,’ you know ‘we don’t believe in the Constitution’ and none of that could be further from the truth. We just didn’t want to sell the assault-style weapons that could inflict that kind of damage.”
— John Shumway (@KDKAShumway) October 8, 2019
Stack not only ordered the AR-15 off the shelves. He had all $5-million dollars worth destroyed — scrapped.
“I said, ‘you know, what if we really think these things should be off the street, then we need to destroy them.’”
But his reaction to selling weapons took an even more dramatic turn when the shootings took place in Parkland Florida.
“We found out that we sold this kid a shotgun. That’s when I said, we’re done,” he says.
Cowan: Even though it wasn’t the gun he used?
Stack: Even though it wasn’t, it could have been.
This time, Stack responded by raising the gun purchasing age in all Dick’s stores to 21.
It was a decision that would cost the company dearly. “It was a quarter of a billion dollars,” he says.
Critics like professional shooter and former police officer Dianna Muller says Stack is wrong.
“It feels anti-American to start creating public policy through corporate policy,” she says.
But the CEO of the Pittsburgh-based sporting goods chain, with over 700 locations, is undeterred and possibly moving towards a total ban on gun sales at Dick’s: “We’ve got the whole category under strategic review to see what we’re going to do with this category.”
On the company’s website, reviews range from praising to blasting the company.
WATCH: KDKA’s John Shumway reports —
Outside a local Dick’s, Pittsburghers had mixed reviews.
“I think we should have more gun control and it’s ridiculous that you can buy just guns wherever you want,” one man told KDKA’s John Shumway.
“I think it’s a great idea. Guns are too easy to buy, too readily available for everyone in the community,” said one woman.
“I don’t think a sporting store like this should be selling guns or anything like that,” said one customer.
Another local said, “People are going to get guns no matter what, just because one store stops doesn’t mean they are all going to.”
Whatever decision he makes, Stack knows he’s swimming in turbulent waters.
“I don’t understand how somebody, with everything that’s gone on, could actually sit there and say, ‘I don’t think we need to do a background check on people who buy guns,'” he said.
“It’s just ridiculous. So many people have said to me, ‘you know, if we do what you want to do, it’s not going to stop these mass shootings.’ And my response is, ‘you’re probably right, it won’t.’ But if we do these things and it saves one life, don’t you think it’s worth it?”