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Article posted: 1/22/2013 1:57 PM

Groupon suspends gun-related deals after Sandy Hook


CHICAGO -- Groupon Inc., the largest provider of online daily deals in the U.S., halted gun-related offers amid nationwide debate about weapons sales following a school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

"The category is under review following recent consumer and merchant feedback," Julie Mossler, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based Groupon, said by e-mail, without elaboration. The suspension covers areas including ranges and clay shooting, she said.

Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. last month halted sales of military-style rifles similar to the one used in the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School carnage, which resulted in the deaths of 26 pupils and staff members. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest seller of guns in the U.S., continues to offer the weapons at about 1,200 of its almost 4,000 stores.

Central Texas Gun Works, an Austin, Texas-based gun store, lost potential customers after Groupon ended its deal for half- off a $140 handgun safety class earlier than planned, said Michael Cargill, the owner of the business.

Groupon is "targeting law-abiding citizens who are taking time out of their busy schedules to take a gun safety course, learn conflict resolution and all the laws that surround them carrying that firearm," said Cargill, who is asking customers and other business owners to boycott the website.

Groupon declined 2.6 percent to $4.82 at 2:08 p.m. in New York. The shares are down 76 percent from the company's initial public offering in November 2011.

The Groupon suspension was reported Monday by the Los Angeles Times.

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