Levi Stauss CEO doesn’t want guns in company’s stores.
An accidental discharge incident in one of their stores has caused a popular denim clothing manufacturer to come forward and ask customers to leave their firearms at home.
Levi & Strauss CEO Chip Bergh, a former U.S. Army Captain, said the company’s brick-and-mortar stores haven’t made an official policy barring firearms completely. But they don’t see the need for them to be there are asking people to leave them at home. “You don’t need a gun to try on a pair of jeans and it’s really out of respect for the safety of our employees and consumers shopping in our stores,” Bergh told Fortune.com.
Fortune further reports Bergh consulted with Starbucks before releasing the statement on firearms. Starbucks and Target are both retailers that have made similar requests in the past and then became the subject of boycotts and controversy.
Bergh insists he’s not against the second amendment and that employees will not be tasked with enforcing an anti-firearms rule in stores.
“The way to do this is with respect for gun owners,” Bergh told Fortune.
It’s probably unlikely the request will win Levi’s any fans with firearms enthusiasts however. In an unsurprising move, the NRA is calling for a boycott and for firearms owners to voice their displeasure with the company via social media and the hashtag #DontDie4Denim.
Apparently this move was expected because Bergh told Fortune he believes most of these kind of boycots eventually blow over. It remains to be seen what the response from consumers will be in this case.
You can read Bergh’s full statement on the issue below.
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. 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.
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. Of course, authorized members of law enforcement are an exception.
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.
We operate in hundreds of stores across every state in the U.S., and laws are different in each one. We know that the presence of firearms in our stores creates an unsettling environment for many of our employees and customers. We also know that trying to enforce a ban could potentially undermine the purpose of the ban itself: safety. With that in mind we’ve made this decision as a business – a request not a mandate – and we sincerely hope responsible gun owners will respect our position.
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.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Levi Strauss & Co.