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USA: Walmart to discontinue handgun ammunition sales following civil society pressure after El Paso attack

On August 3, 2019, a man killed 22 people and injured another 24 people with an assualt rifle in a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. The perpetrator drove about 11 hours from his home in Allen, Texas to the Walmart in El Paso to commit the attack. In advance of the attack, the perpetrator is believed to have posted a document with white nationalist and racist hatred toward immigrants and Hispanics on 8chan (see more here). 

Four days earlier, a recently suspended employee at a Walmart store in Southaven, Mississippi shot and killed two co-workers and wounded two other people. 

Following these attacks, civil society groups and people across the United States have called for Walmart to stop selling firearms and to take further action to help build safer communities. The Walmart Must Act Coalition, comprised of Guns Down America, Color of Change, March for Our Lives, The Women's March, The American Federation of Teachers, Latino Victory Project, Move On, Daily Kos, People for the American Way, Change the Ref, and Orange Ribbons for Jaime are calling upon Walmart to:

  • Stop selling firearms and ammunition until we raise the national standard for gun ownership and production;
  • Pledge they’ll no longer make political contributions to lawmakers who get their money from the NRA;
  • Pledge that they’ll use their political influence to advocate for legislative changes to raise the standard of gun production and ownership in America, including a ban on military-style weapons; [and]
  • Invest in the communities they serve and fund gun buybacks in key areas around the country.

We invited Walmart to respond; response provided below. 

On 3 September 2019, Walmart announced that it would discontinue handgun ammunition, discontinue handgun sales in Alaska (marking the company's complete exit from handguns), and discourage open carry of guns in its stores.

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Article
15 August 2019

Commentary: Walmart has a responsibility to do everything it can to help Americans build safer communities

Author: Guns Down America

"What Walmart CEO Doug McMillon got wrong: There's no debate about the effectiveness of gun safety laws," 15 August 2019 

Guns Down America, a bolder, broader movement calling for dramatically fewer guns in America released the following statement after Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in today’s earnings report that “The Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness…” “We’re glad that Walmart is continuing to think about these issues and is taking the concerns of its customers and employees so seriously. But there’s no debate: gun reforms save lives and the largest retailer in the world has a responsibility to do everything it can to help Americans build safer communities,” said Igor Volsky, Founder and Executive Director of Guns Down America. “Walmart, which has repeatedly restricted guns sales in its stores, knows better than anyone that raising the standard for gun ownership helps keep us all safe. It’s time for Walmart to use its enormous leverage to push our Congressional leaders to act by announcing it’s ending gun sales, stopping donations to NRA-backed lawmakers, and actively lobbying for gun reform, including a ban on military-style weapons.”

... This week Guns Down America launched the #WalMartMustAct coalition calling on the world's largest retailer to end gun sales, stop supporting NRA-backed lawmakers and use its influence to raise the standard for gun ownership in America.

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Article
10 August 2019

Walmart shoppers threaten to boycott after stores remove violent video game displays, but not guns

Author: Nicole Lyn Pesce, MarketWatch

Walmart is facing increasing pressure to pull guns from its shelves in the wake of the recent shootings at its El Paso, Texas and Southaven, Miss. stores that killed 24 people... Instead, Walmart... ordered employees to remove video game signs that depicted violence, as well as displays for movies and hunting videos that reference gun violence. Now shoppers and the American Federation of Teachers have threatened to stop shopping at the retail giant... Walmart stopped selling handguns in the 1990s (except for Alaska), and it stopped selling assault-style weapons in 2015. It also restricted gun and ammunition sales to anyone under 21 after the Parkland shooting last year. But otherwise, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told MarketWatch earlier this week that, “right now, there have been no changes to our firearms policy.”

... But many shoppers don’t think removing video game and movie displays that depict gun violence goes far enough. There is no evidence to show a causal link between violent video games and mass shootings... And the nation’s largest teachers union, which counts 1.7 million members, also called for Walmart to not only stop selling guns, but to stop supporting politicians who oppose gun control. “If Walmart continues to provide funding to lawmakers who are standing in the way of gun reform, teachers and students should reconsider doing their back-to-school shopping at your stores,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten wrote in an Aug. 7 open letter to Walmart’s CEO.[Also refers to Target.]

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Article
9 August 2019

Walmart pulls violent video game displays from its stores, but it will still sell guns

Author: Chris Isidore, CNN Business

Walmart is taking down displays of violent video games in its stores in the wake of recent shootings. But the company plans to still sell the controversial video games -- and guns. The change in policy does not apply to the sale or display of actual firearms. As the nation's largest retailer, Walmart is also one of the largest sellers of guns and ammunition in the world... "We've taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment," said Walmart spokesperson Tara House... The company will also stop playing violent movies and shows on televisions in its electronics section. It will similarly stop playing hunting videos in its sporting goods section.

...  Many people have called on Walmart to stop selling guns altogether. Some Walmart employeeshave voiced their concerns about the store's gun sales. Walmart does not sell assault style rifles, nor does it sell handguns outside of Alaska. It also does not sell any weapons to customers younger than 21. Walmart stopped selling assault rifles after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2015, and it changed its age policy followed the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, last year.

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Article
7 August 2019

Walmart CEO pledges 'thoughtful and deliberate' response to El Paso mass shooting

Author: Chris Isidore, CNN Business

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon says the company will respond in a "thoughtful and deliberate" way to the recent fatal shootings at its stores... "We will work to understand the many important issues that arise from El Paso and Southaven, as well as those that have been raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence," McMillon wrote. "We will be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and we will act in a way that reflects the best values and ideals of our company, with a focus on serving the needs of our customers, associates and communities."... "As it becomes clearer that the shooting in El Paso was motivated by hate, we are more resolved than ever to foster an inclusive environment where all people are valued and welcomed," he wrote. "Our store in El Paso is well known as a tight-knit community hub for people in the region, where we serve customers from both sides of the border."

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Article
6 August 2019

Walmart will still sell guns after 2 mass shootings in one week

Author: Kate Gibson, CBS News

Gun control advocacy groups hope Walmart, one of the nation's top sellers of firearms, will reconsider its role in weapons sales in the aftermath of a shooting rampage that killed at least 22 people at one of its stores in El Paso, Texas."Walmart has a history of moving in the right direction, but what happened in El Paso shows they need to go further," [said] Igor Volsky, executive director of Guns Down America... almart has no such plans, company spokesman Randy Hargrove told CBS MoneyWatch. "There is no change in any company policy," Hargrove said. "No retailer is immune to violence," he added of Saturday's bloodshed, which came days after an employee shot and killed two other workers at a Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi... Walmart employees take computer-based active-shooter training when they first join the company, and repeat the training quarterly... Walmart last month said it would no longer sell guns in New Mexico after a state law took effect requiring background checks for nearly all private gun sales except antiques and between relatives. The law lets federally licensed gun sellers, including Walmart, provide background checks.

... Walmart said in a statement at the time that its "heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way." 

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