In an open letter originally published on social media site LinkedIn and republished by Fortune Magazine, Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh asked concealed carriers not to bring their weapons into his stores, saying, “You don’t need a gun to try on a pair of jeans.”
“The debate in the U.S. over gun safety and gun rights is as complex as it is divisive. As a former army officer, a father and business leader, I’ve heard the arguments from all sides,” Bergh wrote.
“And, as CEO of a 163-year-old company whose products and presence rest at the intersection of culture and community in more than 110 countries around the world, I feel a tremendous responsibility to share our position on the issue, now, at a time when clarity is paramount.
“Providing a safe environment to work and shop is a top priority for us at Levi Strauss & Co. That imperative is quickly challenged, however, when a weapon is carried into one of our stores. Recently, we had an incident in one of our stores where a gun inadvertently went off, injuring the customer who was carrying it,” he continued.
“So, 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.”
Bergh then inadvertently undermined his own argument in a major way.
“With stores in Paris, Nice and Orlando, and the company’s European headquarters in Brussels, 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,” he wrote.
Of course, those four locations have one major thing in common: The shootings all took place in places that were either gun-free zones or countries that have such strong gun control that almost everywhere is a de facto gun-free zone.
This is the profound weakness in the Levi’s CEO argument. Nothing that he’s doing would have prevented any of these attacks, because violent actors don’t obey gun laws, the same way they don’t obey explosive laws, murder laws or terrorism laws.
The only people Levi’s concealed carry ban will effect — and make no mistake, no matter how respectfully it’s being phrased, it is a ban — are law-abiding citizens trained in self-defense who might be able to thwart an attack.
This is why — to turn Bergh’s pithy, smug logic back on its utterer — you “need a gun to try on a pair of jeans.”
Fortune said Levi’s is confident that any boycott will “blow over.” Will it? That’s up to us. We ought to remember their contempt for our Second Amendment rights for a long, long time.
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