DICK’S Sporting Goods recently announced several changes to their policy on selling guns in their stores. In addition to no longer selling certain types of rifles and “high capacity” magazines, the store is refusing to sell any firearm to anyone under the age of 21, but will continue to sell them to those who are 21 and older.
Put another way, a business engaged in public commerce is refusing to sell its products to a certain segment of the public based on management’s personally held beliefs.
In 2012, Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding because of the owner’s personally held belief on same sex marriage. The couple sued, claiming that public accommodation law prohibited Masterpiece Cakeshop from refusing them service. There was immediate outcry from the left, demanding the baker be punished for discrimination. The case is still making its way through the US Supreme Court, but the baker lost in Colorado.
Where is that same outcry directed at DICK’S Sporting Goods? DICK’S is not refusing service to individuals based on their actions, like failing a background check, acting erratically, or not wearing shoes or a shirt; they are denying service to an entire class of people who are legally permitted to purchase their products.
Where is the ACLU demanding public accommodation laws protect a Constitutional right? Where is the widespread condemnation of big business imposing their views on their customers? Where, I might ask, is the logical consistency?
This is a display of hypocrisy, not a call to action. The law is not a political weapon. It should be deployed fairly and evenly. That does not mean that if the other side weaponizes the courts, we should do the same. We must hold true to our principles, not surrender them to the left. Yes, the left sued a business for acting on the owner’s beliefs. That was wrong, and precisely why it is not something for us to emulate.
Thankfully, I have not seen much hypocrisy on the right in reaction to this. I have seen plenty of people announce they will not shop at DICK’S or the several businesses who took to social media to virtue signal by cancelling discounts for NRA members. That is the correct way to handle businesses who insert themselves into a political debate. But I have seen no calls for legal action.
I’m a big believer in the right of business owners to run their businesses as they see fit, without much government interference. Let free citizens sell their legal products and services to whoever they want, and let the marketplace decide what happens next. If Masterpiece Cakeshop wants to refuse service to gay weddings, let them. If DICK’S Sporting Goods or Walmart wants to refuse service to anyone under 21, let them. But there seems to be a whole lot of people who agree with me on the second one but thought the first demanded government intervention to punish a dissenter.