Walmart announced Tuesday that it will discontinue sales of ammunition designed for handguns and military-style rifles such as the AR-15.
The company will also stop allowing customers to openly carry firearms inside its stores, and called on lawmakers to consider passing new gun control legislation.
In a Facebook post, CEO Doug McMillon wrote that the company has been “focused on store safety and security” in the wake of the Aug. 3 shooting at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart that killed 22 people and wounded over two dozen others.
“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,” McMillan continued. “It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.”
In an earnings report released Aug. 15, Walmart estimated it sells 20% of the nation’s ammunition.
Rifles And Handguns
Stores will continue to carry ammunition designed for shotguns and in calibers designed for more traditional hunting rifles.
But Walmart will stop selling 5.56 and .223-caliber ammunition — nearly identical rounds commonly used in AR-15s and similar rifles — once current inventory has been exhausted.
It is not clear whether the store will stop selling any other types of ammunition designed for rifles, such as the 7.62-caliber weapon used in the El Paso shooting.
And while McMillon wrote that the company will stop selling “short-barrel rifle ammunition,” it’s unclear exactly what Walmart considers to be a short-barreled rifle
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives closely regulates rifles with barrels shorter than 16 inches. Many AR-15 style rifles have barrels that would not be considered short-barrel by ATF standards.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Walmart will continue to sell some weapons, such as deer rifles and shotguns, McMillon wrote, and “much of the ammunition they require.”
Sales of handgun ammunition will be discontinued completely, McMillon said. The store will also stop selling handguns in Alaska, the last state where Walmart still sells them. The retailer ended handgun sales in other states more than a decade ago.
McMillon explicitly called on lawmakers to “strengthen background checks” and “remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger,” apparent references to the so-called “gun show loophole” and red flag laws, respectively.
“We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the assault weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness,’ McMillon added.
The retailer stopped selling such weapons in 2015.
Across The Country
McMillon’s comments come three days after a gunman killed seven people and wounded nearly two dozen others during a mass shooting in Midland and Odessa, Texas, on Saturday.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, has faced intense scrutiny in recent years for its gun and ammunition sales.
The company stopped selling military-style rifles in 2015, and last year raised the age limit to purchase firearms or ammunition to 21.
McMillon’s statement also mentioned “multiple incidents … 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.”
“These incidents are concerning and we would like to avoid them,” McMillon continued. “So we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores.”
A man in Springfield, Missouri, made national headlines for causing a panic when he walked into a Walmart while wearing body armor and carrying a rifle and ammunition. The man afterwards told police he “wanted to know if Walmart honored the 2nd Amendment.”
The retailer has also faced pressure in the courtroom.
The family of a woman killed outside a Jewish Community Center in 2014 in Overland Park, Kansas, sued the retailer after one of the weapons used by the gunman was purchased in a straw sale at a Missouri Walmart.
Walmart officials have estimated the store sells about 2% of the nation’s guns. The company says that places it “outside at least the top three” for U.S. gun sales.
Guns & America is a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life.