Walmart said it will stop selling certain forms of ammunition, ask customers to no longer openly carry guns in their stores, and call on President Trump and other lawmakers to pass background checks legislation.
Under the changes:
- Walmart, which previously stopped selling handguns, will now stop selling handgun ammunition as well.
- It will stop all handgun sales in Alaska, marking its complete exit from the handguns category.
- Walmart will no longer make available the types of bullets that while used in hunting rifles can also be fired by military-style weapons.
- Customers at Walmart and Sam’s Club will be asked to no longer openly carry firearms in stores, in states where “open carry” is allowed, unless they are authorized law enforcement officers. Walmart won’t be changing its policy for customers who have permits for concealed carry. Signage will be added in stores in the coming weeks to communicate the changes.
The changes followed two deadly and “horrific” shootings at Walmart stores over the summer, CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement on Tuesday. At the end of July, there was a shooting at a Walmart store in Mississippi that killed two associates, followed by another in August at a Walmart in El Paso, TX—where 22 people were killed.
As it related to changes in product assortment and access, McMillon said, “We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand. As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same. Our remaining assortment will be even more focused on the needs of hunting and sport shooting enthusiasts. It will include long barrel deer rifles and shotguns, much of the ammunition they require, as well as hunting and sporting accessories and apparel. We believe these actions will reduce our market share of ammunition from around 20 percent to a range of approximately 6 to 9 percent. We believe it will likely drift toward the lower end of that range, over time, given the combination of these changes.”
On changing its open-carry policy, McMillon noted 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. We have also had well-intentioned customers acting lawfully that have inadvertently caused a store to be evacuated and local law enforcement to be called to respond. 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.”
He added, “We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results.”
McMillon said Walmart is exploring ways to share the technical specifications and compliance controls for its proprietary firearms sales technology platform to help improve firearm safety. He said, “This system navigates the tens of millions of possible combinations of federal, state and local laws, regulations and licensing requirements that come into effect based on where the firearm is being sold and who is purchasing it. We hope that providing this information, free of charge, will help more retailers sell firearms in a responsible, compliant manner.”
Finally, McMillon called on legislators to “strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger.” He also called for legislators to explore the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban and more must be done “as a country, to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior.”
He wrote, “Today, I’m sending letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership that calls for action on these common sense measures. 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. Given our decades of experience selling firearms, we are also offering to serve as a resource in the national debate on responsible gun sales.
“We have a long heritage as a company of serving responsible hunters and sportsmen and women, and we’re going to continue doing so. Our founder, Sam Walton, was an avid outdoorsman who had a passion for quail hunting, and we’re headquartered in a state known for its duck hunting and deer hunting. My family raised bird dogs when I was growing up in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and I’m a gun owner myself. We understand that heritage, our deeply rooted place in America and our influence as the world’s largest retailer. And we understand the responsibility that comes with it. We want what’s best for our customers, our associates and our communities. 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. The status quo is unacceptable.”
The announcement from Walmart comes as the retailer has faced backlash, some from its own employees, for not pulling weapons from stores after a deadly shooting in July at a Walmart store in Mississippi, and another in August at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas—where 22 were killed.
Walmart in the 1990s stopped selling handguns in the U.S. with the exception of Alaska. In 2015, it stopped selling semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 rifle. Following the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Texas, in 2018, Walmart stopped selling firearms and ammunition to people under the age of 21.