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Target asks its customers to keep their guns out of stores

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - U.S. retail giant Target has asked people to keep guns out of its stores after being the subject of campaigns in Texas where people have brandished firearms in store aisles in their attempt to secure more rights to carry guns in public.

"Starting today we will ... respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law," Target chief executive John Mulligan said in a posting on its website on Wednesday.

Groups advocating the unlicensed, open carrying of handguns, have taken rifles and shotguns to restaurants and retailers for campaigns to build support for their cause, pointing to laws in places like Texas that allow for the unlicensed, open carrying of long guns.

"This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create," said Mulligan.

A number of national eateries, including Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc, Sonic Drive-In, Chili's Grill & Bar and Jack in the Box Inc have also asked patrons to keep their firearms at home.

An advocacy group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America waged a social media campaign to boycott Target after photos circulated of members of open carry groups in Texas walking through stores with rifles and shotguns slung over their shoulders.

“Moms everywhere were horrified to see images of people carrying loaded assault rifles down the same aisles where we shop for diapers and toys," founder Shannon Watts said in a statement.

Open Carry Tarrant County, a gun rights group behind campaigns that have drawn some of the most attention, said on Wednesday members will continue to exercise their right to carry weapons in public.

"They just want to shut up the cry babies who support more victims for criminals. The Unarmed!," the group said on Facebook posting.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Jim Loney)

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