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.
Gov: Talks with Maine Ebola nurse fail
Negotiations with nurse Kaci Hickox, who refuses to be quarantined after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, have "failed" and the…
Police discover torture house in East Baltimore
Every day they sit and sip coffee and survey the scene along East Madison Street, but they had no idea the vacant home across from them was…
Liberian Ebola rate slows, WHO stresses caution
The World Health Organization says the spread of Ebola in Liberia has slowed but also warns the disease is not yet under control.
Malala Yousafzai donates $50,000 to Gaza schools
The Nobel Peace Prize winner was just honored again, and is donating her entire prize money this time.
Terminally ill woman may have changed mind
A 29-year-old terminally ill woman who planned to take her life under Oregon's death-with-dignity law may have changed her mind.
Sri Lanka steps up mudslide rescue efforts
A mudslide killed at least 10 people, with about 150 still missing in a town about 123 miles from the country's capital.