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Publix tells shoppers not to openly carry guns in its stores

The suggestion would mostly affect its customers in Alabama, Georgia and other states with open carry laws.
David Hogg, center, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, holds the hand of fellow student Caspen Becher, lower left, as he and others demonstrators lie on the floor at a Publix Supermarket in Coral Springs in May 2018. Students from the Florida high school where 17 people were shot and killed earlier that year did a "die in" protest at a supermarket chain that backs a gubernatorial candidate allied with the National Rifle Association. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) [WILFREDO LEE | AP]

If you’ve got a gun, Publix Supermarkets prefers you keep that knowledge to yourself. At least when you’re in one of its stores.

The Lakeland-based retailer with stores in seven states released a brief statement Tuesday asking customers to not openly carry firearms in its sores.

“Publix respectfully requests that only law enforcement officials openly carry firearms in our stores,” spokesman Brian West wrote in an email to the Tampa Bay Times.

The announcement comes after a number of major retailers have also taken a stance on open carry in stores.

“Publix is the 38th store brand in the last week to reverse its open carry policy after pressure from @MomsDemand volunteers,” Shannon Watts, a member of Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, wrote on Twitter. “Corporate leaders are standing up to the gun lobby.”

Moms Demand and Everytown are grassroots organizations focused on gun control legislation.

The wave of announcements began with Walmart following a deadly August mass shooting in one of its El Paso stores that left more than 20 people dead.

Florida law doesn’t allow for the open carry of firearms, but states like Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama and Virginia, where Publix also operates, all have laws permitting open carry.

Guns have been a problem for Publix this year with multiple accidental shootings in its stores.

In May, Vernon Messier was shot in the leg when his wife dropped her purse and a gun she was carrying in her purse discharged while the couple stood in line at a Land O’ Lakes Publix. A few days later, a woman was injured when an off-duty police officer’s gun accidentally discharged at a Miami-area Publix.

Last year, survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting staged a “die-in” at Publix to protest its support of the National Rifle Association and NRA-baked candidates. The retailer announced it would stop donating to the NRA in response to the controversy, but records show the donations resumed earlier this year.

Representatives from Publix did not respond to a request for comment on its concealed carry policy.