Walmart asked customers to stop openly carrying weapons in its stores — even in states where open carry is legal — and said it will stop selling handguns, handgun ammunition and some rifle ammo in response to the Aug. 3 massacre at the retailer’s El Paso store.
“Just a few days prior, two of our associates were killed by another associate in our store in Southaven, Mississippi. And hours after the shooting in El Paso, our country experienced another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. This weekend brought tragedy to Midland and Odessa, Texas,” wrote CEO Doug McMillon. “In Southaven and El Paso, our associates responded to anger and hate with courage and self-sacrifice. Our immediate priorities were supporting our associates and the impacted families and cooperating with law enforcement. In parallel, we have been focused on store safety and security. We’ve also been listening to a lot of people inside and outside our company as we think about the role we can play in helping to make the country safer. It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.”
McMillon said Walmart will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber “that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons.” Discontinuing handgun sales in Alaska will mark the retailers exit from that market.
“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,” he added. “We believe these actions will reduce our market share of ammunition from around 20% to a range of approximately 6 to 9%. We believe it will likely drift toward the lower end of that range, over time, given the combination of these changes.”
McMillon then brought up “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 said. “We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results. We hope that everyone will understand the circumstances that led to this new policy and will respect the concerns of their fellow shoppers and our associates.”
There is no change in store policy in regard to lawful concealed carry. Store managers were briefed this morning on how to let customers know that they can’t openly carry guns in the stores anymore.
“We will treat law-abiding customers with respect, and we will have a very non-confrontational approach. Our priority is your safety,” McMillon said. “We will be providing new signage to help communicate this policy in the coming weeks.”