Let me start off by saying right away that I absolutely love Kroger. As a gun owner, a libertarian and activist I nearly adore Kroger’s strong stand for gun rights, especially in the face of strong criticism coming from anti-gun groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The company’s executives have taken a very clear and unambiguous position stating that all gun owners are welcome as customers in their stores, including open carry customers, so I make it a point to often open carry whenever I go shopping for groceries. This is both in support of Kroger but also in support of open carry rights here in Ohio.
As a large family we likely spend tens of thousands of dollars there, so this article is less about Kroger and more about Pierce Bryant, a retired Cincinnati cop who works as a Loss Prevention Division Manager at Kroger and is responsible for managing security and loss prevention for stores in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas. Bryant’s LinkedIn profile states his responsibilities as a Loss Prevention Manager:
Responsible for the Division execution of the Company standards and initiatives to reduce asset loss throughout the division. Responsible for developing Division goals and strategy action plans for implementation of Company/ Division loss prevention initiatives.
Many local gun rights activists are aware of Bryant’s subversive anti-gun tactics. I have been contacted by one individual who has provided me with an e-mail he sent to a Kroger manager at the corporate office, advising Kroger of anti-gun signs being posted in one of their Cincinnati-area stores, signs which are in violation of corporate policy. To his surprise, the e-mail ended up in Pierce Bryant’s hands who refused to do anything to solve the problem.
In another incident in a high-crime area of Cincinnati, a Kroger store had a no-gun sign posted on the doors, which is believed to have been posted there at Bryant’s advice. When inquiring as to why there is an anti-gun sign on the store doors, the store manager claimed the landlord requires the signs to be up, which was an untrue statement made at the time. After activists contacted the corporate office, the no-gun signs came down again, continuing the cat and mouse game.
The most recent anti-gun incident that took place in Pierce Bryant’s division took place in a Kroger store located in Beavercreek, Ohio. When new inaccurate signs popped up on the store’s doors in violation of Kroger’s corporate policy, local activists inquired as to why the signs are up.
The signs, which are located on all the doors in the store, state that a gun carrier is committing a felony by walking into the store because the store has a liquor permit. The problem is that this particular sign was made irrelevant years ago when the Ohio law was changed to allow gun carriers to walk into any establishment that sells alcohol without violating any law. The only requirement is that one may not carry a gun and drink at the same time. Furthermore, the Beavercreek Kroger store does not even sell liquor in open containers which makes the sign meaningless.
When I attempted to discuss this issue with Evelyn Miller, the Beavercreek store manager, she said that the area Loss Prevention Manager (Pierce Bryant) is responsible for all the gun signage in for all the area stores. When pressed to give the name of the particular individual posting the signs, she refused to give a name, grabbed my camera and threatened to call the local police.
After a member of Ohio Open Carry spent nearly two hours on the phone with various individuals at the Kroger corporate office, there was no clear answer as to why there are outdated, ominous anti-gun signs in a store when the official corporate policy is that all gun owners are welcome into the store. When pressed again about why certain store managers are ignoring corporate policy, the answer was again ambiguous and unclear, with one individual saying “no comment” and another individual saying “we support the decisions our stores make.”
To many of us, it appears that the local Loss Prevention division of Kroger run by former Cincinnati cop Pierce Bryant is undermining the pro-gun corporate policy and push his anti-gun agenda on stores, sometimes perhaps even without the knowledge of local managers! This is disturbing but not necessarily surprising based on past interactions with Bryant.
When a member of Ohioans for Concealed Carry (OFCC) called Bryant to inquire as to why certain stores prohibit guns and others do not and he observed that “Bryant was clearly unhappy with the corporate policy and was arrogant and almost a jerk” when discussing the issue of guns in the stores.
Kroger CEO Randy McMullen has repeatedly and publicly stated that Kroger will not take an anti-gun position as a result of boycott threats from anti-gun organizations, but it appears that a very real threat comes from inside the company where certain employees who may have anti-gun sentiments appear to use their positions of authority to undermine and water down what is clearly an unambiguous corporate policy.
With this said, we are calling on Kroger to clarify why certain divison managers for Loss Prevention are using their authority to push this agenda, making it very difficult for Kroger customers to have a uniform experience in stores across the state or country.
As a family, we will continue to support Kroger and will continue to shop and carry in their stores, however we are asking that all anti-gun signs which are attempting to intimidate gun owners be removed from store doors. If a store sells liquor in open containers, they can certainly post a sign at the bar or tasting area where the alcohol is served, like all other establishments do.
In response to the rogue store managers’ insistence to keep signs posted in violation of corporate policy, Ohio Open Carry decided to host an open carry event at the Beavercreek store over the weekend. All Kroger customers who are also gun owners can show their support of Kroger’s corporate office and protest the local managers’ agenda by shopping while carrying. You can signup for the even on the Ohio Open Carry page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1598973380389401/