Levi Strauss & Company, the 163-year-old denim company, has announced (or rather “clarified”) its policy for possessing firearms while shopping in its stores.
“As a former army officer, a father and business leader, I’ve heard the arguments from all sides. And, as CEO of a 163-year-old company whose products and presence rest at the intersection of culture and community in more than 110 countries around the world, I feel a tremendous responsibility to share our position on the issue, now, at a time when clarity is paramount, ” wrote CEO Chip Bergh.
Bergh indicates he is clarifying his position now because “recently, we had an incident in one of our stores where a gun inadvertently went off, injuring the customer who was carrying it.”
Unfortunate. How many people carrying a firearm into a Levi’s store accidentally discharge a weapon? A few? Most? Or almost none?
Providing a safe environment to work and shop is a top priority for us at Levi Strauss & Co. That imperative is quickly challenged, however, when a weapon is carried into one of our stores. Recently, we had an incident in one of our stores where a gun inadvertently went off, injuring the customer who was carrying it.
That all depends on who is carrying a weapon into a Levi’s store. Mr. Bergh has just ensured that only one kind of person will be bringing a firearm into his stores: a criminal.
So, while we understand the heartfelt and strongly-held opinions on both sides of the gun debate, it is with the safety and security of our employees and customers in mind that we respectfully ask people not to bring firearms into our stores, offices or facilities, even in states where it’s permitted by law. Of course, authorized members of law enforcement are an exception.
We operate in hundreds of stores across every state in the U.S., and laws are different in each one. We know that the presence of firearms in our stores creates an unsettling environment for many of our employees and customers. We also know that trying to enforce a ban could potentially undermine the purpose of the ban itself: safety. With that in mind we’ve made this decision as a business – a request not a mandate – and we sincerely hope responsible gun owners will respect our position.
It boils down to this: you shouldn’t have to be concerned about your safety while shopping for clothes or trying on a pair of jeans. Simply put, firearms don’t belong in either of those settings. In the end, I believe we have an obligation to our employees and customers to ensure a safe environment and keeping firearms out of our stores and offices will get us one step closer to achieving that reality.
Let me tell you about when I am most concerned with my safety: when I cannot take appropriate steps to protect and defend myself with a firearm in a place that just announced all its patrons and staff will be helpless and unarmed. The world isn’t a “safe” place and you can’t make it one just by saying so. Criminals don’t listen to “requests” like this and Mr. Bergh just did the criminal class a favor by disarming everyone who shops at all Levi’s stores.
I would ask Mr. Bergh if he feels his store, its cash registers, and its employees’ and customers’ lives are more safe now that he has announced to all criminals and ne’er do wells that they can carry out their nefarious intentions without obstacles.