By: Robert Davis
Walmart is calling on Congress to consider introducing legislation to ban so-called "assault weapons" nationwide.
"We made our own decision about assault rifles several years ago when we removed that category from our stores, and we believe it's time for Congress to debate that issue as well," Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of corporate affairs for Walmart, said during a press conference covered by Business Insider. "And we will lend our perspective and support as somebody who's been a firearms dealer for more than 20 years."
Walmart executives admitted they have no plans to stop selling guns or ammunition. The retail behemoth believes, however, it is past time for Congress to study the effectiveness of an assault weapons ban following the tragic shooting in El Paso, Texas that left 22 Walmart shoppers dead and another 24 injured.
“When the worst happens, we counter with our best selves,” Doug McMillon, Walmart’s president and CEO, said in a press release. “In so many ways, Walmart reflects the best of America – full of people from all walks of life going about the business of taking care of family and daily responsibilities, living their lives and chasing their dreams. As it becomes clearer that the shooting in El Paso was motivated by hate, we are more resolved than ever to foster an inclusive environment where all people are valued and welcomed.”
Walmart is not the first retailer to call for gun control legislation. Earlier this year, Dick’s Sporting Goods made the choice to stop selling weapons in all of their retail stores. Since then, the retailer’s stock price has plummeted by nearly 20 percent.
Kroger has also waded into the gun control debate by phasing out its ammunition sales in 45 of its 132 Fred Meyer’s outlets across the country. The company has since spent money lobbying the Democratic Party of Ohio, where Gov. Mike DeWine is pushing red flag legislation through the state house.
Walmart employees at an e-commerce facility in San Bruno, California staged a walkout in early August to protest the company’s continued sale of firearms and ammunition. A group of 40 employees stood outside for close to 15 minutes and hung their heads in silence to remember the victims of the El Paso shooting.
The retail giant responded by saying they are focusing on being a responsible firearms dealer.
"We stopped selling assault-style weapons in 2015," Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in an interview with PolitiFact. "We have a longstanding commitment to selling firearms safely and compliantly."
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him with tips or comments at RobertDavis0414 (at) gmail.com.