Wake Forest University

On guns, companies are getting out ahead of the politicians

In 1960, black students staged sit-ins that forced Woolworth's to desegregate its lunch counters, and other stores and restaurants followed suit. In 1986, General Motors, Coca-Cola and dozens of other U.S. corporations pulled out of apartheid-era South Africa after years of pressure from activists, college students and investors.

This week, four major retailers slapped restrictions on gun sales that are stronger than federal law.

Those are all rare examples of American companies getting out ahead of the politicians and the law on socially explosive issues. Such decisions are almost always made reluctantly, under huge pressure and with an eye toward minimizing the effect on...

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