NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA) — Walmart has changed its gun policies in response to recent mass shootings.
The world’s largest retailers will be discontinuing sales of short-barrel rifle and handgun ammunition, and it’s halting handgun sales in Alaska.
Walmart is also asking customers to no longer openly carry firearm in its stores, even where open carry is permitted.
The announcement comes just days after a mass shooting killed seven people in Odessa, Texas, and follows two other back-to-back shootings last month.
One of them was at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas.
In a letter to associates, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote, “as a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same.”
• After selling through our current inventory commitments, we will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons;Doug McMillon, Chief Executive Officer of Walmart
• We will sell through and discontinue handgun ammunition; and
• We will discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking our complete exit from handguns.
While some groups like the NRA are calling it shameful, other local leaders are applauding the move.
“I think it does send a really big message that the climate towards gun safety is changing, and we’re hoping our senators when they go back to work in Washington, will follow suit and do their part to take action,” says Kaci Churchill, Group Lead for Benton County Moms Demand Action.
She adds, “it’s tragic that it takes a tragedy to bring about change, but we’re really grateful that Walmart is putting the safety of its customers and employees first.”
“It’s clearly a political move, no one believes it’s going to make a change,” says State Senator Bart Hester.
Hester says while he supports Walmart’s decision to end open carry in stores, “I don’t think they believe, nor I believe, this will affect a mass shooting in America, whether Walmart sells ammunition or not.”
Hester adds this will help local economy.
“We’re in a free market, and this is really good for the small businesses in town that sell ammunition. This has got to be the best news in years,” he said.
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.”Doug McMillon, Chief Executive Officer of Walmart
Despite these changes, Walmart says it will still serve responsible hunters, sportsmen and women.
It will allow shoppers to purchase weapons, apparel, and ammunition used for recreational purposes.
“I respect Walmart’s decision. As a private sector business—and the world’s largest retailer—Walmart must make decisions based on data and consumer demand, while balancing those decisions with the values on which the company was founded. Sam Walton was an avid quail hunter, and Walmart, like its founder, has long been a supporter of our sportsmen and women and the wonderful hunting traditions that are so important to our state. I commend Walmart for continuing to supply ammunition and firearms for hunting and recreational purposes.”Gov. Asa Hutchinson, (R) Arkansas
“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. 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. 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.”National Rifle Association