Walmart to stop selling ammunition for handguns, assault rifles

September 04, 2019 09:40
Mourners attend a vigil outside a Walmart store following a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 6. The retailing giant has begun to respond to the debate on gun control. Photo: Bloomberg

Retailing giant Walmart will stop selling ammunition for handguns and some assault-style rifles in all its stores across the United States, responding to calls for action following a string of mass shootings in the country, including two at Walmart stores in Texas and Mississippi, Reuters reports.

“It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,” Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon said in a letter to employees on Tuesday. “As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same.”

McMillon said the decision follows his visit to El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 6, three days after a gunman went on a rampage at a Walmart store there, killing 22 people.

Walmart is among US companies that are reacting to the debate over guns and gun safety as mass shootings have proliferated, risking backlash from powerful national gun owners’ groups.

The retailer is urging that background checks be strengthened and that the reauthorization of a national assault weapons ban “should be debated to determine its effectiveness,” McMillon said in the letter.

Walmart will stop selling handgun sales in Alaska, the only state where it still sells hand guns, and asked customers not to openly carry firearms in its stores, even in states that allow “open carry” of guns.

The halt on the ammunition and handgun sales will come into effect when current inventory is sold out.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), a pro-gun group with deep political ties, said Walmart is succumbing to pressure from “anti-gun elites.”

“Lines at Walmart will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America’s fundamental freedoms,” it said.

Walmart said its latest actions would reduce its share of the ammunition market from around 20 percent to a range of 6-9 percent, and would trend toward the lower end of that range over time.

Walmart had already ended sales of assault rifles and raised the minimum age for gun purchases to 21.

Among other retailers, Kroger has begun asking customers to stop openly carrying firearms in stores, a change in policy, a company spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The grocer previously had followed local and state laws on the matter, she said.

“Kroger is respectfully asking that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores, other than authorized law enforcement officers,” Jessica Adelman, group vice president of corporate affairs, was quoted as saying in an emailed statement.

“We are also joining those encouraging our elected leaders to pass laws that will strengthen background checks and remove weapons from those who have been found to pose a risk for violence.”

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