The Kroger Company will stop selling guns to customers under the age of 21, the grocery store chain said Thursday, joining two other major retailers who have raised age limits after last month’s school shooting in Florida.
Kroger sells guns at 43 of its 133 Fred Meyer locations in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. It said that, in those stores, customers would not be able to buy either guns or ammunition until undergoing a background check that would verify their age.
A spokeswoman for the company, Kristal J. Howard, said that the change was a direct response to the massacre in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed in a school shooting.
“We follow all state and local laws regulating the sales of sporting-related firearms at our select general-merchandise Fred Meyer stores,” she said. “Recent events demonstrate the need for additional action on the part of responsible gun retailers.”
The company had already stopped selling assault-style rifles at Fred Meyer locations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington several years ago, and said it would no longer sell assault-style rifles in Alaska or accept any special orders of those guns in the state. It said that it could make the changes immediately. The Wall Street Journal reported the chain’s decision Thursday.
Kroger’s decision follows that of two of the nation’s leading gun sellers, Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, who on Wednesday announced that they would raise the age limit on gun sales to 21.
Dick’s also said that it would immediately end sales of all assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, while Walmart said that it would no longer sell items resembling assault-style rifles, even including air guns and toys.
Federal law allows people 18 and older to buy semiautomatic rifles and other weapons, though a person must be at least 21 to buy a handgun from a firearms dealer.
With its announcement, Kroger becomes the latest company to adjust its policies after the shooting in Parkland. Hertz car rental, MetLife insurance, Delta airlines and others ended relationships with the National Rifle Association after the shooting.
The Cincinnati-based Kroger made a deal to acquire Fred Meyer in 1998, transforming it, at the time, into a leading chain in the West, Midwest and Southeast. The Fred Meyer stores retained their names and local management teams, continuing to sell food and general merchandise in 800 stores in 12 states.
In 2016, a shareholder group proposed that Kroger’s board of directors ban the sale of semiautomatic weapons and accessories. Both parties took the argument to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which sided with the company in declining to recommend enforcement action.
Kroger said that in many stores it was scaling back the size of its gun departments based on less demand and changing customer preferences.