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Target Shoppers React To Decision To Ban Guns From Stores

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Target stores are asking customers to leave their guns at home. This comes in the wake of photos showing gun activists carrying long guns, slung over their shoulders, inside a Mansfield store.

"I think Target is to be commended for asking those people not to do that," Theresa Towner told CBS 11 News outside a Target store in Dallas' Medallion Center. "I think it's a stupid issue," she continued. "People carrying assault weapons in public. It's nothing more than an attempt to intimidate other people."

Towner's daughter, Allison Sloan, agreed. "And, if you want to carry a firearm you should conceal it, that way people don't, at least, feel uncomfortable."

The photos -- originally taken in March by Open Carry Tarrant County -- triggered a lot of debate and a national petition drive.

Wednesday, on its website, Target's management said they, "respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target," adding it wants to provide an "atmosphere that is safe and inviting."

Outside the Target store in Dallas, Carole Harper told CBS 11 News, "I believe you have the guns but I don't think you need to carry them around." She continued, "Little kids get in trouble for pointing their finger as a gun… get expelled. Then you have these people that walk around with guns in restaurants and stores. I just don't think it's necessary."

William Matthews echoed Harper's sentiment. "I'm pro-gun but the people that do these, that carry on, open carry [displays] make it a bad precedent for those of us that are pro-gun."

In fact, it was hard to find shoppers critical of Target's position. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, a national group that collected 400,000 anti-gun signatures on a petition drive, applauded Target's action. The moms' group further offered that it is possible to respect the second amendment and customer safety at the same time by leaving the guns at home.

But Kory Watkins of Open Carry Tarrant County, who took the photos, believes Target's statement really didn't change things and left itself a way out when it said, "Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so."

Watkins told CBS 11 News that since his group has always followed local laws it will continue to carry where it legally can -- no matter the criticism.

The complete Target statement is as follows:

"Every day at Target, in everything we do, we ask ourselves what is right for our guests? We make all of our decisions with that question in mind. Questions have circulated in recent weeks around Target's policy on the "open carry" of firearms in its stores. Today, interim CEO, John Mulligan, shared the following note with our Target team members. We wanted you to hear this update from us, too.

The leadership team has been weighing a complex issue, and I want to be sure everyone understands our thoughts and ultimate decision.

As you've likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit "open carry" should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.

We've listened carefully to the nuances of this debate and respect the protected rights of everyone involved. In return, we are asking for help in fulfilling our goal to create an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for our guests and team members.

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."

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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