In a bold move to help address the killing sprees that have overtaken the United States recently, Walmart stores are publicly requesting their patrons refrain from carrying handguns in stores, despite state laws that permit them to do so. This, however, does not apply to law enforcement officers. State laws prohibit stores from placing a ban on weapon carry, even though the stores are on private property.

Furthermore, they have announced they will discontinue the sale of handgun ammunition. Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas announced on Sept. 3, handgun and short-barrel ammunition, .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber that are used in military-style weapons will be discontinued once the present stocks are depleted.

Handguns are displayed on a vendor’s table at an annual gun show in Albany, N.Y. In a study looking at data from 2006 to 2014, serious gun injuries including many from assaults sent 75,000 U.S. children and teens to emergency rooms over the nine years. Results were released on Oct. 29, 2018. (Philip Kamrass/AP Photo, File)

The Alaskan store, the only store that still carries handguns, will no longer do so, and they will carry only hunting rifles and ammunition to suit. Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon sent a memo to employees; “We have a long heritage as a company of serving responsible hunters and sportsmen and women, and we’re going to continue doing so,” adding, “as it relates to safety in our stores, there have been multiple incidents since El Paso where individuals attempting to make a statement and test our response have entered our stores carrying weapons in a way that frightened or concerned our associates and customers.” 

McMillon, also a gun owner, said in a company email, “These incidents are concerning and we would like to avoid them, so we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where ‘open carry’ is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement officers. As we’ve seen before, these horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades. We should not allow that to happen. Congress and the administration should act.”

Police interview witnesses at Sam’s Club where Walmart shoppers were evacuated near the scene of a shooting at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP)

The move to ban guns in Walmart comes after just weeks ago, on Aug. 3, a gunman carrying an AK-style firearm went on a shooting rampage in a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 dead and dozens more injured. This was one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. The AK had previously been removed from sale in Walmart stores, as they had stopped selling assault rifles in 2015. Texas became an open carry state in 2016. With many of the Walmart stores situated in rural areas where there is a strong heritage of hunting and fishing, stores are frequented by hunters wanting to buy equipment and ammunition, and this has put Walmart in an awkward situation. Walmart intends to urge the White House to implement “common sense” measures, “In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again,” McMillon wrote in his memo. “The status quo is unacceptable,” reports Politico. With more than half of its 4,000 U.S. stores selling firearms, Walmart is hoping to influence other gun retailers to follow suit by implementing some of their practices, such as sharing software they use to carry out background checks.

This gun move by Walmart was followed by a statement on the same day by grogery giant Kroger, “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, said. “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,” reports Newsweek.

“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,” she added.

Starbuck’s Target and Wendy’s have also recently asked customers to not carry guns in their stores.

 

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