On Tuesday, Walmart announced that they would discontinue sales of ammunition for handguns and various assault-style rifles in stores across the United States, reports Al Jazeera. This reduction in gun and ammunition sales is welcomed news by many, as it is one month after more than 20 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
Walmart will continue to sell long barrel deer rifles and shotguns and much of the ammunition for those guns, but America’s largest retailer will ban ‘short barrel rifle ammunition’, assault-style rifles and will stop selling handguns in Alaska, the only state where it still sells handguns, reports CNN. The store has also requested that customers no longer openly carry guns into its 4,700 US stores. CEO Doug McMillon said, “it’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable” and added that the recent changes to their gun policies were prompted by the El Paso shooting, as well as recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, Midland and Odessa, Texas.
Reeling off the mass shooting tragedies in America highlights the problematic relationship between retailers whom allow easy access to guns and the mass shootings that are becoming the norm. A balancing act is witnessed with this new policy, as it has been welcomed by anti-gun activists, but gun rights advocates have assailed the decision as infringing on their rights. Therefore, retailers try to strike the balance between maximizing sales, maintaining safety and appeasing interest groups, writes USA Today. Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan said, “there are business issues, moral issues and maybe even safety issues compelling retailers to take a hard look at guns.”
McMillon spoke of the mass shootings and said, “as a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week and we will never be the same”; we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again.” He has previously said that Walmart was responsible for 2% of firearm sales and 20% of ammunition sales and they now expect its share of ammunition sales to drop to between 6% and 9% as a result of the newly announced changes, reports Business Insider.
However, supporters of gun rights have rebuked Walmart’s decision, with the National Rifle Association releasing a statement that read, “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,” reports Forbes. However, with this positive change for stronger gun reform, Walmart could be a catalyst for change for people across America and other giant retailers whom still sell guns and ammunition freely. It has been argued that the evolving policies signal a broader business strategy. Walmart serves Americans of every socio-economic and cultural stripe, writes the New York Times. However, although it may alienate some customers in rural America where carrying guns is permitted, Walmart is putting its e-commerce business in East and West Coast cities, where potential shoppers are more liberal and would welcome more gun restrictions, report the New York Times.
Walmart said they had undertaken a “thoughtful and deliberate” process in formulating a response to the violence, with gun control activists celebrating the new policy and reiterating that it is evidence that most of the country supports more firearm restrictions, the New York Times reports. McMillon also sent a letter to the White House and Congress encouraging debate around stronger gun-control measures. The letter read, “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,” reports Business Insider.
What is hoped from this progressive policy change is that this type of activism from a business with a platform that reaches out to the masses proves to Americans and politicians that gun reform and better standards for gun ownership in the country is wanted by many. After catastrophic mass shootings plague America, policy change to improve gun reform lacks from both retailers whom sell the ammunition or from politicians who have the power to implement change to prevent mass shootings being a norm. Walmart is breaking the status quo and encouraging change to gun laws in America that are firmly rooted in their constitution. This is a massive step in American history, in preventing mass shootings from annexing American culture and helping to restore some peace, order and safety back to the American people. Now Congress and the White House must follow suit and implement progressive gun reform.
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