Walmart to End Certain Ammo Sales After Mass Shootings

(CN) – A month after the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that killed 22 people, the retailer announced it will stop selling certain kinds of ammunition and ask customers to not openly carry firearms into its stores nationwide.

A Walmart store in Dallas, Texas. (Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press)

The announcement Tuesday from the company’s president and CEO Doug McMillon comes just days after a shooting rampage in the West Texas cities of Midland and Odessa that left eight people dead, including the suspected shooter, and more than 20 injured.

In an open letter to Walmart employees, McMillon cited that shooting and the massacre in El Paso, as well as an Aug. 30 incident in which two Walmart associates were killed by another employee at a store in Southaven, Mississippi. 

“It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,” McMillon wrote.

The company plans to end sales of “short-barrel” rifle ammo that, as McMillon describes, can be used “in large capacity clips on military-style weapons.”

The letter specifically points to .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber ammunition as examples of the kind it will stop selling after the company runs through its current supplies. Walmart also plans to stop selling ammunition for handguns and to end handgun sales in Alaska, the only state where such weapons are currently available in the company’s stores.

McMillon acknowledged the move could reduce the company’s market share of ammunition from 20 percent to between six and nine percent.

Alongside the changes at Walmart stores, McMillon said the company will encourage political leaders to strengthen background checks for gun purchases and to “remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger.”

“As we’ve seen before, these horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades,” McMillon wrote. “We should not allow that to happen. Congress and the administration should act.”

The National Rifle Association blasted the decision, suggesting it could lead to a boycott.

“It is shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites,” the gun rights advocacy group said in a statement. “Lines at Walmart will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America’s fundamental freedoms.”

Walmart has previously retreated from certain branches of the gun market amid concerns about the role of firearms in mass shootings, but such decisions have not always been explicitly tied to such tragedies.

In 2015, the company stopped selling what it called “modern sporting rifles” such as the AR-15, but Walmart tied that decision to lower demand and a focus on different weapons preferred by hunters.

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