Walmart says it will stop selling handgun and short-barrel rifle ammunition, while requesting that customers not openly carry firearms in its stores, even where state laws allow it.
The announcement comes just days after a mass shooting claimed seven lives in Odessa and follows back-to-back shootings last month, one of them at a Walmart store.
After Walmart’s request, readers shared their thoughts on the Times-Review’s Facebook page.
Amber Sexton said until Walmart makes it their policy she will continue to carry her guns.
“Once it becomes policy, I will stop going,” she said.
Bill VanDygrift said he is concerned about the safety of shoppers if guns are not allowed in the store.
“So who is going to stop the terrorist from killing us like fish in a barrel?” he said. “Will they have employees lined up to sacrifice themselves, so we can escape? Of course not the last time they were hiding in the back because no one works on the floor anymore. Good luck Walmart.”
Kimberly Love Crawford said if they are going to make a request, Walmart should make it their policy and stick to it and other store policies.
“Enforce it if that’s what they want to do, but at the same time enforce the no pets rule too because there’s a sign at the front entrance that states no pets allowed but service animals are welcome and I can’t get Cleburne’s employees to ask the pet owners who obviously has pets and not service animals to leave their pets outside the store,” she said. “The last manager told me they didn’t want to make a scene so will they do the same with the open carry if someone brings it to their attention? Probably so! So until a sign is posted no employee or manager will probably say anything.”
Sheila West said even if people no longer openly carry there are still going to have mass shootings.
“[Walmart] just don’t want to be dragged through civil litigation and be held liable on a loophole or technicality,” she said. “This is stupid. Gun laws should protect gun owners not people that are unhinged.”
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based discounter said Tuesday it will stop selling handgun ammunition as well as short-barrel rifle ammunition, such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber used in military style weapons, after it runs out of its current inventory.
It will also discontinue handgun sales in Alaska. Walmart stopped selling handguns in the mid-1990s, with the exception of Alaska. The latest move marks its complete exit from that business and allows it to focus on hunting rifles and related ammunition only.
“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,” Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon said in a memo to employees Tuesday afternoon. “The status quo is unacceptable.”
The retailer is further requesting that customers refrain from openly carrying firearms at its Walmart and Sam’s Club stores unless they are law enforcement officers. However, it said that it won’t be changing its policy for customers who have permits for concealed carry. Walmart says it will be adding signage in stores to inform customers of those changes.
The retailer has long found itself in an awkward spot with its customers and gun enthusiasts. Many of its stores are located in rural areas where hunters depend on Walmart to get their equipment. Walmart is trying to walk a fine line by trying to embrace its hunting heritage while being a more responsible retailer.
With its new policy on “open carry,” McMillon noted in his memo that individuals have tried to make a statement by carrying weapons into its stores just to frighten workers and customers. But there are well-intentioned customers acting lawfully who have also inadvertently caused a store to be evacuated and local law enforcement to be called to respond.
Walmart joins a string of other retailers and restaurants including Starbucks, Target, Wendy’s, and most recently, Kroger, in asking customers not to openly carry their guns when they visit their premises. But they are not enforcing an outright ban because they don’t want to put their employees in confrontational situations.
Walmart says it hopes to help other retailers by sharing its best practices in background checks. And the company, which in 2015 stopped selling assault rifles like the AR-rifles used in several mass shootings, urged more debate on the reauthorization of the assault weapons ban while also calling for the government to strengthen background checks. Walmart said it sent letters Tuesday to the White House and the congressional leadership that call for action on these “common sense” measures.
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