Target is not banning shoppers from carting firearms through its stores, as many news outlets are reporting.
"This is a request and not a prohibition," said Molly Snyder, a group manager from Target's public relations department.
In its "Bullseye View" blog Wednesday, Target said, "Our approach has always been to follow local laws...but starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law."
The retail giant did not say what it would do if a shopper carried firearm into a store.
"At this time, we don’t have plans to proactively communicate with guests beyond the initial ask from Target leadership that is taking place today," Snyder said.
Only six states -- California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Florida and South Carolina -- and the District of Columbia prohibit Americans from carrying an unconcealed firearm. There are 14 states that require a permit to openly carry a firearm. No permit is needed in the other 30 states.
Pressured by a monthlong campaign spearheaded by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Target said it wants an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for all shoppers.
"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," John Mulligan, the company's interim chief executive, said in the blog post.
The Moms group said it has pushed several national chains, including Chipotle, Starbucks and Jack in the Box, to alter their gun policies.
"Like Chipotle, Starbucks, Facebook, Jack in the Box, Sonic, and Chili's, Target recognized that moms are a powerful customer base and political force — and you can respect the 2nd Amendment and the safety of customers at the same time," said Shannon Watts, the group's founder.
But like Target, Chipotle did not ban guns from its restaurants. In an email to a customer asking for clarification, Chipotle explained that it too "strongly and respectfully" asked customers "to not bring any guns into our restaurants," but, "This is not a ban."
The fast-food chain also said it will continue to comply with local laws and hope customers comply with its request.
Starbucks also did not enact a ban.
Watts said that her group is still thrilled with Target's message.
"It puts a chill on gun extremists who think these stores support them carrying guns where there are children," Watts said. "A request still says a lot."
Target's announcement comes after the gun-control group, funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, launched a social media campaign to boycott the chain after a Texas gun-rights group posted photos of members carting rifles through a store near Dallas.
More than 400,000 people signed the petition to prohibit Target shoppers from carrying guns.
"Moms everywhere were horrified to see images of men carrying loaded assault rifles down the same aisles where we shop for diapers and toys," Watts said.
The National Rifle Assn. had called the photos "not neighborly," but soon recanted its comment and apologized to the gun-wielders.
Target's position blew up on social media, and while many praised the company, others said they plan to ignore the request and carry firearms in the store.
"I will not give up my rights to your request and will continue to conceal carry when on your premises while I am out and about," said Facebook user R. Alexander Spoerer of Florida.
Snyder says she is waiting to see how Target's request will "play out." Apparently, so is Target.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times