Who is actually calling for a boycott at Caraluzzi’s?

A group of people, or a single person, who appear to be gun control advocates have been posting negative reviews of local grocery stores that ostensibly allow the open carry of firearms by their patrons. The affected stores include Bethel Big Y, all Caraluzzi’s Markets, and Stew Leonard’s.

Though some have suggested the national group Moms Demand Action is behind the campaign, a spokesman confirmed this morning the reviews were not sanctioned by the group.

While the social media reviews have sparked an online debate on open carry laws in Connecticut and the role small businesses play in local politics, no organized boycott effort against Caraluzzi’s Market or other local grocery stores appears to have taken hold, as was suggested by other media outlets.

A Yelp reviewer who says she is from Bethel, ‘Dana J.’ posted one of the reviews on Caraluzzi’s Yelp page on Jan. 7:

“I have shopped at Caraluzzi's for YEARS but was saddened today to learn that they permit open carry in their stores (and, yes, I got this information from the stores themselves). While open carry is legal in CT, private businesses can decide not to allow guns in their stores. Caraluzzi's does not yet have such a policy. So that you are aware, Costco, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Target have policies that do not permit guns in their stores.”

The exact same message can be found posted by a similarly named Facebook user, Dana Amy Johnson, to the Stew Leonard’s Hoe Down Facebook page on Jan. 6. Another instance of the message is found on Bethel Big Y World Class Market’s Yelp review page, also posted by ‘Dana J.’

HAN Network reached out to the Facebook user, Dana Jonson, but she did not respond by press time.

Reporters also reached out to Caraluzzi’s Market. A manager at the Bethel store referred all questions about the open carry issue to Caraluzzi’s customer service email address. The company did not respond to a request for information by press time.

One Weston resident who reached out to HAN Network, Dana Levin, said Caraluzzi’s allowance of openly carried guns was “disconcerting, considering they’re in the backyard of Sandy Hook.”

Although she added she probably wouldn’t participate in any sort of boycott of the store, she believes Caraluzzi’s should at least explain their policy. Levin said she reached out to the store herself and was told that “corporate was handling it.”

“That’s a nebulous term that means nothing,” she said.

Why complain?

The negative social media reviews seem to have been entered because users do not think local grocery stores should allow the open carry of weapons in their aisles.

Negative reviewers may have borrowed tactics from the Moms Demand Action group, which 12 months ago launched a campaign against Kroger’s grocery store using a hashtag #groceriesnotguns. In the campaign, the group encouraged patrons to take their business to stores that do not allow open carry.

In Connecticut, the open carry of firearms is legal, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, a group advocating for strong second-amendment rights in the state, said Wednesday he applauds local stores that follow Connecticut law.
"I would just simply thank the store for not caving into the pressure from people who are essentially trying to impose and enforce non-existent law," Scott Wilson said. "These people are moral busybodies who refuse to get out of the way of the people trying to shop and live their lives."
Wilson did add, however, that his group's membership does not have a unanimous position on open carry.
"Open carry is an issue of concern for a lot of gun owners, and not all of our members are on the same page as far as that goes. The position of our organization is that it is legal to do so, so it's not our position to tell members in what mode or manner they carry whatever they choose."
Some of those who came out against the alleged boycott of Caraluzzi’s Market said they may disagree with the store’s stance, but respected its right to follow the law. Others suggested they felt “safer” in a store that does not ban openly carried weapons.