‘We must also do more, as a country, to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior…’
The retail giant will stop selling bullets that can be used in handguns and short rifles following shootings at its stores in El Paso, Texas, and Southaven, Miss.
CEO Doug McMillon issued a staff memo on Tuesday that said Walmart also would stop selling handguns in Alaska, the last state in which it sold them, and would bar open-carry in its stores to avoid tragic misunderstandings.
Walmart will sell its remaining stock of hunting-rifle ammo such as .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber because it can also be used in semi-automatic and short rifles, commonly mischaracterized as military-style weapons. Other hunting and sport-shooting ammunition will remain on the shelves.
McMillon said Walmart’s share of national ammo sales will fall from about 20 percent to 6 percent eventually.
He also delivered a political message, including a call to debate reauthorizing the assault weapons ban.
“We must also do more, as a country, to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior,” McMillon said. “Today, I’m sending letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership that call for action.”
The move likely will have more power as a virtue-signaling surrender to the anti-gun crowd than as an effective crime control tool.
“The strongest defense of freedom has always been our free-market economy. It is shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites,” the NRA said in a statement.
“Lines at Walmart will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America’s fundamental freedoms. The truth is Walmart’s actions today will not make us any safer,” the statement said. “Rather than place the blame on the criminal, Walmart has chosen to victimize law-abiding Americans. Our leaders must be willing to approach the problems of crime, violence and mental health with sincerity and honesty.”
David Yamane, a sociology professor at Wake Forest University, told Newsweek last year that retail stores’ new gun policies wouldn’t immediately cause change. Despite cries for an immediate solution after mass shootings, “there isn’t one out there,” Yamane said.
Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart changed store rules barring shotgun and rifle sales purchases to adults from 18 to 20. They were hit with several discrimination suits in Oregon for their age-restrictive sales policy.
Dick’s settled one case, but the big-box sporting goods store suffered sales declines in 2018 in part for its decision to stop selling AR-15 and semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines.