US department store chain Walmart has taken a stand on gun sales in the United States, announcing it will no longer sell handgun and certain rifle ammunition, as well as finalising its exit from handgun sales by discontinuing sales in Alaska.
The decision comes after 22 people were killed in a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, as well as further killings in Dayton, Ohio, and Midland and Odessa, Texas, with Walmart chief executive Doug McMillion stating it was clear the status quo was unacceptable.
“We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand,” McMillion wrote in a letter to associates.
“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 sport accessories and apparel.”
While Walmart’s short-barrel rifle ammunition range is more commonly used in hunting rifles, it can be fed into larger capacity clips for use in military-style weapons.
According to McMillion, the follow on effect of this decision would likely result in a loss of market share in the ammunition space, from Walmart’s current 20 per cent to approximately 6 to 9 per cent.
McMillion also expressed intentions to send letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership, pushing for stronger background checks, and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to be dangerous.
“As we’ve seen before, these horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades. We should not allow that to open,” McMillion said.
“In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these happen again.”
Additionally, after open carrying customers brandished firearms in a way that frightened or concerned staff and customers around them, McMillion has asked customers to no longer openly carry firearms into Walmarts and Sam’s Club stores with open carry laws – unless they are authorised law enforcement officers.
“We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results,” McMillion said.
“We hope that everyone will understand the circumstances that led to this new policy and will respect the concerns of their fellow shoppers and our associates.”
The business has faced immense pressure to take a stand on the issue, and remove firearms from its physical stores, following the El Paso shooting.
According to CNN Business several presidential candidates, the American Federation of Teachers, as well as gun safety groups have all pressed the retailer.
This story first appeared on our sister site Inside Retail Australia.