Move comes one month after shootings in two stores
The move comes a month after a gunman entered a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, shooting 48 people and killing 22 of them. That incident came just days after an associate at a Walmart store in Southhaven, Miss., shot and killed two other associates.
“We’ve been giving a lot of thought to our sale of firearms and ammunition,” Walmart chief executive officer Doug McMillon said in a statement. “We’ve previously made decisions to stop selling handguns or military-style rifles such as the AR-15, to raise the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21, to require a “green light” on a background check while federal law only requires the absence of a “red light,” to videotape the point of sale for firearms and to only allow certain trained associates to sell firearms.”
Walmart is now going further. After selling through its current inventory commitments, Walmart will stop selling handgun ammunition, rifle ammunition that can be used in assault-style rifles, and it will stop selling handguns in Alaska, the last state where its stores carry them.
“We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand,” McMillon said. “As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same. Our remaining assortment will be even more focused on the needs of hunting and sport shooting enthusiasts. It will include long barrel deer rifles and shotguns, much of the ammunition they require, as well as hunting and sporting accessories and apparel. We believe these actions will reduce our market share of ammunition from around 20% to a range of approximately 6 to 9%. We believe it will likely drift toward the lower end of that range, over time, given the combination of these changes.”
McMillon added that Walmart would share best-practices related to gun safety with other retailers, and would encourage the nation’s leaders to strengthen background checks and find ways to remove weapons from those people that have been deemed to pose an imminent danger to others. He said he had sent letters to the White House and to Congressional leaders urging common sense gun reforms.
“As we’ve seen before, these horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades,” McMillon said. “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.”
Just hours after Walmart’s announcement, Kroger Co. also said it was asking its customers to no longer openly carry firearms in its stores.