Editorial: Dick’s, other CEOs get to speak up | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Dick’s, other CEOs get to speak up

Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack addresses a gathering at their headquarters in Coraopolis on Feb. 10, 2015.

Who is Dick’s Sporting Goods to ask for stronger gun laws?

Who is Gap? Who is Levi Strauss? Who is Credit Karma or Bloomberg or Condé Nast?

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, they are people.

In the 2010 decision that has rippled through campaign finance, the court decided that limiting the way a company can spend money limits the way a company can express itself. A company, it said, has free speech — and that speech should not be abridged.

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee concurred when he stressed that “corporations are people, my friend.”

So if companies are people and they get to speak with their checkbooks, they also get to have their say in words, and 145 CEOs took that opportunity last week when they delivered a letter to the U.S. Senate asking for action on gun laws

Findlay-based Dick’s has already been at the forefront of the gun issue with decisions to remove high-capacity magazines and bump stocks from stores and prohibiting sales of guns to buyers younger than 21.

Now CEO Edward Stack stands shoulder to shoulder with others asking for “common-sense gun laws that could prevent tragedies” like the mass shootings that have peppered the nation. Specifically, they want the Senate to vote on the laws the House has already passed, like beefed-up background checks and “red flag” laws.

Whether or not anyone agrees with that is up to the individual, but we can’t invite businesses to the politics party when they are writing checks and tell them they can’t get past the velvet rope when they want to have their say.

There are plenty of reasons that a company could make the decision to get involved in politics. It has happened for years. We talk about America as being founded by pilgrims and pioneers, but the boats and supplies were from groups like the Virginia Company of London and the Massachusetts Bay Company, which had bigger goals.

Representatives face the ballot box every two years. Presidents are every four, and senators every six. But for businesses, they face referendums on decisions every day. The ballots cast are the dollars spent by their customers and the value of their shares on the stock market.

Companies may or may not be people, but they still get a chance to speak.

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