Walmart is banning shoppers from openly carrying guns in its stores and ending the sale of some types of ammunition in response to two deadly shootings at its stores, the company said Tuesday.
“After selling through our current inventory commitments, we 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,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a memo to employees on Tuesday.
He said the company will also end the sale of handguns in Alaska — the only state where Walmart sells handguns — and stop selling ammunition for all handguns nationwide.
“We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand,” McMillon said. “As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same.”
Recent shootings at Walmart stores in El Paso, Texas and Southaven, Mississippi killed 24 people.
McMillon has previously said that Walmart is responsible for 2% of firearm sales in the US and 20% of ammunition sales. Walmart expects its share of ammunition sales to drop to between 6% and 9% as a result of the newly announced changes. The company will continue to sell the shotguns and rifles that it currently carries.
“We are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again,” McMillon said.
McMillon also said that he sent letters to the White House and Congress encouraging debate around stronger gun control measures.
“We encourage our nation’s leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger,” McMillon said. “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 said the company made the decision to ban people from openly carrying firearms into its stores because of a string of recent incidents involving gun-carrying shoppers that caused store evacuations. The new policy will be effective immediately, and won’t impact shoppers carrying concealed firearms.
In closing out the memo, McMillon said he owns a gun and that Walmart remains committed to its “long heritage” of “serving responsible hunters and sportsmen and women.”
“My family raised bird dogs when I was growing up in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and I’m a gun owner myself,” he wrote. “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.”
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