Walmart has once again caved to political pressure from the anti-gun lobby by announcing a total ban on handgun ammunition and .223/5.56, what company officials call “short-barreled rifle” ammunition. The nation’s largest retailer will also discontinue handgun sales in Alaska (the only state it currently sells handguns) and “respectfully requests” that customers refrain from openly carrying handguns in states where the practice is allowed.
“We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand,” CEO Doug McMillon said in a memo distributed to employees. “As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same.”
Walmart’s decision comes after two high-profile massacres at stores in El Paso and Mississippi, which McMillon cites as justification for these policy changes. The company has also faced intense political pressure from the anti-gun lobby, including activists like David Hogg and politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
McMillion estimates that Walmart currently accounts for about 20 percent of ammunition sales in the country. Once the company sells through its stock of handgun ammunition and 5.56/.223, he estimates Walmart’s share of the market will drop to about 6 percent.
Not be to outdone, grocery chain Kroger has also asked its customers to stop openly carrying firearms in its stores.
“Kroger has demonstrated with our actions that we recognize the growing chorus of Americans who are no longer comfortable with the status quo and who are advocating for concrete and common sense gun reforms,” Jessica Adelman, group vice president of corporate affairs, said in a statement, per CNBC.
As justification for its decision to prohibit open carry, McMillon cited a recent incident in which a man entered a Walmart store with a firearm to “make a statement” and frighten employees and customers. He also claims that in a separate incident a well-intentioned person openly carrying a firearm inadvertently caused the stored to be evacuated.
“We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results,” McMillon 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 policy does not affect concealed carries, who will still be permitted to carry their firearms on Walmart property.
McMillon did not explain why his company is no longer selling handgun ammunition.
The CEO not only wants to change Walmart policy but push for expansions of gun control across the country.
“We’ve also been listening to a lot of people inside and outside our company as we think about the role we can play in helping to make the country safer,” he said. “It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.”
McMillon plans to send letters to the White House and congressional leaders, asking for action on “common sense measures.” He’s calling on D.C. to “strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger.”
Walmart is still planning to offer shotguns and “deer rifles” (presumably, bolt action rifles), a decision that’s raised criticism from anti-gun politicians.
Massachusetts Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said Walmart’s actions are “not nearly enough.”
This is a good start—but it’s not nearly enough. Walmart can and should do much more. And we need real gun reform, now. https://t.co/3gAZZ5ZxOK— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 3, 2019
This isn’t the first time Walmart has caved to political pressure.
In the 1990s the company stopped selling handguns anywhere in the U.S. except Alaska. In 2015, it stopped selling semi-automatic rifles, and, following the Parkland massacre, Walmart stopped selling firearms and ammunition to people under the age of 21.