The CEO of Levi Strauss & Co Chip Bergh made some waves this week when he announced that he’d rather customers not carry firearms, even licensed ones, in the company’s stores.
Bergh posted an open letter to LinkedIn on Wednesday making the request. It has been erroneously reported that the company banned the carrying of guns in its stores the way some other chains have done, but it remains merely a request, not a mandate.
“While we understand the heartfelt and strongly-held opinions on both sides of the gun debate, it is with the safety and security of our employees and customers in mind that we respectfully ask people not to bring firearms into our stores, offices, or facilities, even in states where it’s permitted by law. Of course, authorized members of law enforcement are in exception,” Bergh writes, according to this story from The Washington Post.
The company has stores in Paris, Nice, and Orlando along with a European headquarters in Brussels—all locations that have recently been affected by mass shootings.
“I’ve thought more about safety in the past year than in the previous three decades of my career because of how ‘close to home’ so many incidents with guns have come to impacting people working for this company,” Bergh wrote.
Bergh specified the reason he is making a request and not a mandate by saying “trying to enforce a ban could potentially undermine the purpose of the ban itself: safety.”
Bergh closed his statement by writing: “It boils down to this: you shouldn’t have to be concerned about your safety while shopping for clothes or trying on a pair of jeans. Simply put, firearms don’t belong in either of those settings. In the end, I believe we have an obligation to our employees and customers to ensure a safe environment and keeping firearms out of our stores and offices will get us one step closer to achieving that reality.”
Unfortunately, people shouldn’t have to be concerned for their safety while shopping for clothes, or while driving or riding the bus to the story, or while walking from the parking lot or garage to the store, or while walking from their car to their house or apartment when they return home—but in today’s world, they often have to be, and that’s why so many Americans choose to carry concealed firearms.
According to the Post, Bergh stated that a customer carrying a concealed firearm in one of the company’s stores had an accidental discharge, injuring himself, but he did not specify in which location the alleged incident occurred.
This story from USA Today says the 163-year-old San Francisco-based company is the latest business to make such a request or to outright ban firearms including chains like Whataburger (which asked diners not to openly carry in their locations), Chipoltle, Panera, and Starbucks, which asked customers not to bring guns onto their premises at all.