Several social activist organizations have recently asked Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) to ban open carrying of firearms in its stores.

Target gun control

Demand to ban guns inside Target stores

An organization called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has launched an online petition demanding that Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) adopt rules to prevent customers from openly carrying weapons in their stores. The petition began with the public outcry regarding photos of gun-rights activists in Texas shopping at Target with semiautomatic rifles.

Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) has not responded officially to date. The retail giant has only replied that it does not sell guns or ammunition, and all stores comply with both state and federal laws regarding firearm open-carry policies.

Mom’s Demand Action enjoying success

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America decided to go after Target because of its reputation as a family store. “It’s a place we take our children to shop,” group spokeswoman Erika Soto Lamb explained in an interview in The Wall Street Journal. “We’ve been disturbed by some of the demonstrations that gun extremists have held with loaded rifles inside and outside some stores. Assault rifles have no place in the baby aisle.”

The activist organization has enjoyed several successes recently, including convincing Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) to ban guns at its restaurants. Similar petitions resulted in Sonic Corporation (NASDAQ:SONC) and Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE:EAT) also joining the rend toward customers to leave their firearms at home or in their vehicles.

Controversy over guns in stores

A debate has also broken out among open-carry groups about the wisdom and effectiveness of bringing guns into public retail outlets. The National Rifle Association got pulled into the fray earlier this week reprimanding what it called the “downright scary” behavior of an attention-hungry few. “It’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself,” the group said in its statement.

The NRA backtracked on Wednesday of this week, however, saying the statement criticizing open carrying of firearms in stores was just one staff member’s “opinion” on the subject. The original statement can still be seen on the NRA’s website.