Dear Chip –
As an Army veteran, a mother, and a Second Amendment rights advocate I feel a “tremendous responsibility” to address your November 30th letter to your customers in which you “respectfully ask people not to bring firearms into our stores.”
My husband and I will, of course, respect your wishes and never enter any of your stores again. If you don’t value our business (nor our safety concerns about having to leave our defensive tools at home, or worse – in our cars without positive control) enough to keep your politics away from your company, we will certainly oblige by keeping our business away from you and your products.
To be sure, you have every right to make this request. The stores are Levi’s property. I fully understand that, and I accept your choice to only do business with disarmed potential victims. That’s fine. Your property rights are as important as my right to defend myself, so I will abide by your request and never take my gun into your stores again.
But I do want to address some of your claims, so bear with me.
Chip Bergh, President and CEO, Levi Strauss
Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Green 2014
You claim to be a former Army officer and a father. I’m sure, if you have ever deployed to a war zone (probably not, judging by your dates of service), you remember that your firearm has kept you safe in some pretty hazardous situations. That’s why it is interesting to me that as someone who has served his country, you have so little understanding about the safety and security carrying an effective tool of self defense can provide. Actually, maybe it’s not interesting… given that you even fail to capitalize the word, “Army” in your open letter (out of respect, if nothing else), tells me a lot about what you thought of your military service. Four and a half years in the military from 1979 to 1983 should have given you some perspective, but I guess not.
I’m also puzzled that as a father, you prefer to see customers cowering and parents trying desperately to shield their children from those who will undoubtedly ignore your respectful request, rather than armed citizens who are accountable for their own safety and the safety of those around them and are willing to take responsibility for said safety.
You describe how impacted you were by the attacks in Nice, Paris, and Orlando, and yet, you fail to mention that France has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the world, which somehow failed to stop the attacks there, and that the Orlando shooting took place despite the Florida state law that prohibits carrying concealed firearms into an establishment that serves alcohol. This tells me you’re either acting from a place of emotional hysteria, or you intentionally ignore the facts in every attacks in your effort to genuflect in front of unhinged cowards, whose petty little feelings of dread at seeing a regular citizen carrying a self defense tool are more important to you than the actual safety of your customers.
“It boils down to this,” you claim, “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.”
I agree with you, Chip. You shouldn’t have to be concerned about your safety while shopping, which is why neither my family nor I will ever shop in a Levi Strauss & Company store again. Rather, we will spend our hard-earned money in an establishment that respects our right to defend ourselves, rather than bowing to cowards who soil themselves at the sight of a tool.