The country’s largest retailer announced Tuesday that it will pull all handguns, handgun ammunition, and some rifle ammunition from stores following several mass shootings last month including one at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas that killed 22 people.
Walmart is also asking customers not to openly carry their firearms in the retail giant’s U.S. stores or in Sam’s Club, another retail chain owned and operated by Walmart. Walmart will still continue to allow guests who have concealed carry permits to carry their firearms in stores, a policy that saved lives last month at one of its stores in Arkansas when an off-duty firefighter carrying a gun held a 20-year-old suspected shooter with tactical weapons and body armor at gunpoint until police arrived.
The retailer will also still sell long-barrel deer rifles and shotguns in addition to ammunition for the weapons.
“It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told employees in a memo, as reported by CNN. McMillon went on to say the policy changes were in response to last month’s shootings in Ohio and Texas.
Gun owners are a significant part of Walmart’s consumer base, and McMillon, who says he owns a firearm, said he doesn’t want to alienate customers by making this political statement.
“We will treat law-abiding customers with respect, and we will have a very non-confrontational approach,” McMillon noted in the memo. “Our remaining assortment will be even more focused on the needs of hunting and sport shooting enthusiasts.”
The latest shootings in August reignited the media and Democratic Party’s push for gun control. Democrats on the presidential campaign trail have taken advantage of the well-publicized shootings despite current lows of gun murder rates. Several Democratic 2020 White House hopefuls, as in other policy areas, have run far to the left by now endorsing the idea of U.S. gun owners being forced to hand their guns to the federal government in return for government-decided payments.
Former vice president Joe Biden, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, and Montana governor Steve Bullock have now all come out in support of some type of federal gun “buyback” program. Bullock wants the program to be optional.
Several other Democratic presidential candidates called for Walmart to end gun sales altogether.