Levi Strauss is synonymous with the cowboy and renegade image, but its CEO is publicly requesting shopping cowboys to leave the heat — the gun — at home when browsing for new jeans and cowboy wear. Even in store locations where carrying a weapon into a store is legally allowed.
In a public letter to customers released Wednesday on LinkedIn, CEO Chip Bergh states “you don’t need a gun to try on a pair of jeans.”
It’s all in the name of public safety and has nothing to do with constitutional right.
“It’s not an anti-Second Amendment thing,” Bergh toldFortune in an exclusive interview. The news report noted Bergh is a former U.S. Army captain and is not a gun owner.
The request is being made, according to Bergh’s letter, due to the number of cities involved in mass violence in the past year.
Here is the Bergh’s open letter to customers:
” An Open Letter to Customers: Our Weapons Policy”
November 30, 2016
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.
The request drew rapid social media response, with more than a few people indicating they’ll boycott the store, according to a Washington Post report.
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