In a surprising announcement, Walmart, the nation’s largest retail chain, has announced that it will discontinue sales of assault weapons. The announcement comes on the same day that a local reporter and her cameraman were shot dead during a news broadcast in Virginia, but the move is not in response to that. According to a Walmart spokesman, it’s strictly a business decision.
The pro-gun site Bearing Arms reported on Walmart’s decision on August 25. According to their report, Kory Lundberg, who is Walmart’s Senior Director for Corporate Communications, said that politics did not enter into the decision. Lundberg said that not all Walmarts sell weapons, and in those that do, “entry-level” firearms such as simple bolt-action rifles and single shot shotguns are much bigger sellers than the more expensive semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.
[While] this happens to get more attention because of what the product is, the decision was completely based on what customers are buying and what they want.
Walmart will be selling off their remaining inventory of guns such as the AR-15 at “close-out” prices. The AR-15 has been the weapon of choice in recent mass shootings, such as the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting. To replace those weapons, the retailer will be offering an expanded inventory of hunting rifles and shotguns: guns that weren’t designed for efficiently killing a large number of people.
It is interesting to note that, just this past spring, Walmart won a court battle that had been initiated by one of the company’s stockholders, over the sale of these weapons. New York City’s Trinity Church, which holds Walmart stock worth around $300,000, wanted to force the company’s board to review the products that the chain sells, when it comes to “products that especially endanger public safety and well-being, risk impairing the company’s reputation, or offend the family and community values integral to the company’s brand.”
Trinity’s rector, Rev. Dr. James Cooper, said that what the church was seeking was a confirmation from the Walmart board that there is a system in place to oversee the products that Walmart stores offer for sale.
Somebody is making decisions about what they sell. Trinity doesn’t need to. We would just like them to tell us they have a system in place at the board level to protect the reputation of the company, its values, and protect the citizens who live in that community from extreme harm.
Walmart had argued that the church’s proposal would interfere with the company’s day-to-day operations, and the Securities and Exchange Commission agreed. The matter then moved to the federal courts, where the church won initially, only to have the decision reversed on appeal.
Now, Walmart has gone beyond what Trinity’s motion was calling for, in removing not just the high capacity magazines that were the church’s main concern, but ending sales of the weapons themselves.
Featured image via Mitch Barrie/Flickr