After years of public pressure, the largest retailer in the world is beginning to make changes to its ammunition and gun sales policies. In the wake of the “horrific” mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, where 22 people were killed and another 24 injured, company executives said they are making the changes because it is “clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.”
Here are the key sales and policy changes:
- Stop all handgun ammunition sales
- Stop handgun sales in Alaska, the only state where Walmart was still selling handguns
- Stop selling all .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber ammunition, which can be used in military assault-style weapons like the AR-15
- Ask customers who are not law enforcement to refrain from open carrying weapons in stores
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon explained the reasoning behind these policy changes in a letter to associates:
As it relates to safety in our stores, there have been multiple incidents since El Paso where individuals attempting to make a statement and test our response have entered our stores carrying weapons in a way that frightened or concerned our associates and customers. We have also had well-intentioned customers acting lawfully that have inadvertently caused a store to be evacuated and local law enforcement to be called to respond. These incidents are concerning and we would like to avoid them, so we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where “open carry” is permitted – unless they are authorized law enforcement officers.
We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results. We hope that everyone will understand the circumstances that led to this new policy and will respect the concerns of their fellow shoppers and our associates. As it relates to concealed carry by customers with permits, there is no change to our policy or approach. This morning, we briefed your leadership team on how to communicate this change in policy to customers when needed, and they will be sharing that with you very soon. We will treat law-abiding customers with respect, and we will have a very non-confrontational approach. Our priority is your safety. We will be providing new signage to help communicate this policy in the coming weeks.
McMillon also implored Congress and the White House to take action:
Finally, we encourage our nation’s leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger. We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness. We must also do more, as a country, to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior. Today, I’m sending letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership that call for action on these common sense measures. As we’ve seen before, these horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades. We should not allow that to happen. Congress and the administration should act. Given our decades of experience selling firearms, we are also offering to serve as a resource in the national debate on responsible gun sales.
So say we all!
UPDATE: The NRA responds, calling the move “shameful.”
The NRA says it is "shameful" that Walmart will stop selling handgun ammunition in response to never ending mass shootings. pic.twitter.com/Wa08FLTOKP
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) September 3, 2019