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Open carry is legal in Idaho, but now chains are asking Idahoans not to open carry in their stores

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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Two national retailers thrust themselves into a contentious Idaho issue this week when they asked customers not to carry guns openly in their stores.

Walmart and Kroger, parent of the Fred Meyer chain, asked their customers on Tuesday to stop open carrying guns in response to the continuing mass shootings that have killed hundreds of Americans in the past five years — most recently on Saturday, when a shooter in Odessa, Texas, killed eight people.

“We are also joining those encouraging our elected leaders to pass laws that will strengthen background checks and remove weapons from those who have been found to pose a risk for violence,” Jessica Adelman, Kroger group vice president of corporate affairs, told Reuters via e-mail.

Walmart also announced Tuesday that it would no longer sell ammunition for handguns and short-barreled rifles. A manager at the Walmart in Boise declined to comment Wednesday.

Idaho is one of the nation’s most gun-friendly states. Open carry is legal in Idaho and conceal carrying without a permit, also called constitutional carry, became legal in Idaho in 2016.

Any Idaho resident 18 or older may carry firearms or other weapons without a permit anywhere in the state as long as the person is not a felon or otherwise legally prohibited from having firearms.

Additionally, Idaho law prohibits cities and counties from banning firearms on public property, but there are some exceptions to the law, such as schools, jails, courthouses or federal buildings.

Earlier this year, one gun owner challenged the Canyon County Fair’s attempt to block fair-goers from carrying their guns. Greg Pruett confronted the fair director about the ban on guns, and she told the private security firm working the fair that it could not turn away people carrying guns.

Private property and business owners, though, are within their right to ban guns from their premises.

Boise Chef John Berryhill, owner of the Downtown Boise restaurant Bacon, had an encounter with open-carry advocates in his restaurant in February that went viral online.

One of them was Idaho Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon. The state lawmaker posted a public message that Bacon was “not gun friendly” and called for a boycott of the restaurant.

Berryhill told the Statesman he was considering posting a sign prohibiting open carry of guns in the restaurant but he opted not to.

Kroger’s request of customers follows its decision last year to discontinue selling firearms and ammunition in Fred Meyer stores. Freddy’s, based in Portland, operates 132 stores in Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Idaho.

“Kroger has demonstrated with our actions that we recognize the growing chorus of Americans who are no longer comfortable with the status quo and who are advocating for concrete and common sense gun reforms,” spokesman Jeffery Temple told the Statesman via e-mail Wednesday.

“Kroger is respectfully asking that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores, other than authorized law enforcement officers. We are also joining those encouraging our elected leaders to pass laws that will strengthen background checks and remove weapons from those who have been found to pose a risk for violence. Our Kroger Purpose is to Feed the Human Spirit and, as America’s grocer, providing our associates and customers with a safe place to work and shop will remain our highest priority.”

Other large national chains that previously asked customers not to openly carry guns inside stores include Starbucks and Target.

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