Walmart has been subjected to a substantial amount of scrutiny in recent weeks regarding its position on firearms and ammunition. One month ago, an attacker killed 22 people at an El Paso Walmart, putting the retailer in the spotlight during the recent wave of mass shootings. On Tuesday, Walmart announced new policies regarding guns and ammunition.
In an announcement, Walmart made its stance clear when it comes to the national gun debate. After weeks of discussion, the retailer, according to a report by the New York Times, will “stop selling ammunition that can be used in military-style assault rifles.”
Additionally, Walmart is going to discourage customers from carrying firearms openly into its stores. The retail giant plans to call on Congress to not only increase background checks but also to consider an assault rifle ban.
Walmart said that once they are done “selling through our current inventory,” a process that could take several weeks, it will no longer sell certain forms of ammunition, including some short-barrel rifle ammo and all handgun ammo.
The retailer is also calling on lawmakers to require stronger background checks and “remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger.” Walmart also asserts that it would be in support of a new assault rifle ban.
“As we’ve seen before, these horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades,” said Doug McMillion, Walmart’s chief executive. “We should not allow that to happen. Congress and the administration should act.”
Gun rights advocacy groups were quick to rebuke Walmart’s position. The National Rifle Association (NRA) believes that Walmart will lose business to retailers “who are more supportive of America’s fundamental freedoms.”
“The strongest defense of freedom has always been our free-market economy,” said the NRA. “It is shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites.”
Walmart rarely takes such a strong political stance. Since its customer base is broad – spanning every socio-economic category and representing essentially all cultural backgrounds – any public position that impacts policy could effectively alienate at least a portion of their customers.
This isn’t the first time Walmart has adjusted policies that impact its firearm sales. In recent years, the retailer began videotaping gun sales counters and increased the minimum age for buying any gun to 21. In 2015, Walmart also stopped selling assault rifles, though the retailer claimed that lagging sales were behind the decision.