Lehigh Acres Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell said Thursday that retailers are within their rights to pull guns from their shelves, but consumers who don’t favor such policies can vote with their dollars.
“The Citizens United case confirmed that the 1st Amendment protects everyone’s free speech, both individuals and corporations like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart. If you don’t want to sell a product to someone based on your beliefs, you don’t have to, whether it’s firearms or cakes for same-sex weddings,” said Caldwell, one of three Republicans running for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018.
“I’m a proud lifetime member of the NRA and I’ll be sure to spend my dollars where they are welcome.”
Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart both announced Wednesday that they would limit the sale of firearms to customers aged 21 and up.
The move came two weeks after a 19-year-old gunman killed 17 people, including 14 students, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Grocery conglomerate Kroger, which sells guns through its subsidiary Fred Meyer, said Thursday it would also require gun buyers to be over 21. There are no Fred Meyer locations in Florida.
Dick’s said it would also stop selling assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. Walmart stopped selling assault rifles and related accessories in 2015, but said they would also pull guns, air rifles and toys that resemble them from store shelves.
The 21-and-up rule for rifles is favored by Gov. Rick Scott, who included the provision in his post-Parkland legislative plan released last week. Handguns are already subject to the 21-and-up rule.
The National Rifle Association is against the age restriction.
Caldwell faces Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman in the GOP primary for Agriculture Commissioner. Caldwell’s campaign has touted that he is “the only candidate that has consistently received an A rating from the NRA.”