NEW YORK - Target is "respectfully" asking its customers to not bring firearms into its stores, even where it is allowed by law.
In a statement posted Wednesday on the retailer's corporate blog, interim CEO John Mulligan said that Target wants a "safe and inviting" atmosphere for its shoppers and employees.
"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," he said.
In many states, carrying unconcealed guns in public is legal.
Molly Snyder, a Target spokesman, said that Target's move is a "request and not a prohibition."
"We don't have any plans for proactive communication to guests beyond what Target leadership shared today," she added.
Target does not sell guns in its stores or on its website.
Target Corp. made the announcement as it faced pressure about its policy on the "open carry" of firearms in its stores. A group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America gathered nearly 400,000 signatures for a petition asking Target to prohibit shoppers from carrying guns into its stores.
The group has said it is responsible for getting several chains, including Chipotle, Starbucks and Jack in the Box, to to make similar moves. It introduced the campaign after gun rights groups carrying loaded rifles frequently gathered in Target stores including Texas, Alabama and North Carolina to demonstrate in support of "open carry" laws.
"Such positive safety changes made by some of our country's leading retailers are proof of the influence of women and mothers," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. "As we look toward election season, we hope our legislators are taking notice that when women and mothers collectively raise our voices — and soon cast our votes, we are determined to leave an impact."
The Minneapolis company's stock added 36 cents to $58. 73 in Wednesday mid-day trading.
AP Business Writer Michelle Chapman in New York contributed to this report.
Woman gives birth on Calif. freeway shoulder
Marine Corps veteran Bolivar Vilchez was terrified as he helped his wife deliver their daughter on the side of a Southern California freeway.
Operation Grow4Vets pot giveaway held in Colo.
People were lined up out the door for a free marijuana giveaway in Denver Saturday.
Corgi owners rally around slain dog in Wash.
Corgi owners around the nation are rallying around a slain Washington state dog, calling for the harshest penalty for the man charged with…
Former NFL player killed in car crash
Former Tennessee Titans kicker Rob Bironas died Saturday night after a car accident near his home, according to police.
Chrysler recalling nearly 189,000 SUVs
Chrysler is recalling almost 189,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos in the U.S. to fix a fuel pump problem that can cause the SUVs…
Militarized police: Weapons program under review
The government is reviewing the Pentagon program that provides free military equipment to law enforcement agencies.