Gun-control boycott of local groceries spreads to Big Y
As a boycott of local groceries has spread to Big Y, Stew Leonard Jr. said his stores have no plans to change their gun policy.
“We talked about this as a family, and we feel like we have a very safe environment at Stew’s with security guards and over 100 security cameras,” said Leonard, CEO and president of the grocery chain with Connecticut locations in Danbury, Norwalk and Newington. “Obviously, we don’t want anyone coming in with an unconcealed weapon, but we are going to follow federal and state laws regarding guns.”
State law allows people with a permit to openly carry firearms in public, but stores are free to set their own policies. Following the 2012 shootings of 26 students and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Starbucks asked customers to stop bringing guns to buy coffee, for example. Target and Whole Foods followed with similar policies.
The issue made headlines last week when a Redding woman began a boycott after she saw a man wearing a gun on his waist at Caraluzzi’s Bethel Food Market. The boycott spread to at least one other store — Big Y — and forced the 400-member Connecticut Food Association to promise to develop a policy that would keep supermarkets out of the divisive gun-control debate.
Representatives from Big Y did not respond to requests for comment.
Leonard said one incident did occur in one of his Connecticut stores when a woman saw a man wearing a gun while he was reaching for some eggs. She told the store manager, who asked the man to conceal the weapon. The man turned out to be a local detective, Leonard said.
“It hasn’t been an issue,” Leonard said. “If it becomes an issue, we will address it in the future.”
Caraluzzi’s posted a statement about the controversy on its website last week, saying its store aisles were the wrong place to fight over gun control.
“We’ve had a formal policy in place that specifically prohibits our employees from bringing arms into the workplace, and then followed the state law regarding the public,” according to the statement by Mark Caraluzzi, president and CEO. “While most non law-enforcement gun owners conceal their weapons and go about their business without generating a stir, we have had very few instances historically where an individual is openly carrying a gun, which caused a fellow shopper to feel uncomfortable.”
The case that caused the controversy happened on Jan. 6, when a Redding woman was upset by a fellow shopper wearing a gun on his waist.
The debate in the Danbury area follows two high-profile armed-while-shopping incidents in southwestern Connecticut.
In December, a man wearing a handgun drew an armed police response when he walked into Macy’s in Milford. Earlier this month, a man with a gun in a holster got into a confrontation with three police officers when he tried to order a sandwich at Subway in Bridgeport.