NEW YORK—Walmart says it will discontinue the sale of handgun ammunition and also publicly requests that customers refrain from openly carrying firearms in stores even where state laws allow it.
The announcement comes just days after a shooting spree claimed seven lives in Odessa, Texas and follows two other back-to-back shootings last month, one of them at a Walmart store.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based discounter said Tuesday it will stop selling short-barrel and handgun ammunition, including .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber used in military-style weapons, after it runs out of its current inventory. It will also discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking its complete exit from handguns and allowing it to focus on hunting rifles and related ammunition only.
“We have a long heritage as a company of serving responsible hunters and sportsmen and women, and we’re going to continue doing so,” according to a memo by Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon that will be circulated to employees Tuesday afternoon.
Walmart is further requesting that customers refrain from openly carrying firearms at its stores unless they are law enforcement officers. Last month, a shooter entered a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas and killed 22 people using an AK-style firearm that Walmart already bans the sale of. Texas became an open carry state in 2016, allowing people to openly carry firearms in public.
An employee crosses into the crime scene following a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2019. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP)
Walmart’s moves will reduce its market share of ammunition from around 20 percent to a range of about 6 percent to 9 percent, according to Tuesday’s memo. About half of its more than 4,000 U.S. stores sell firearms.
The nation’s largest retailer has been facing increasing pressure to change its gun policies by gun control activists, employees, and politicians after the El Paso shooting and a second unrelated shooting in Dayton, Ohio that killed nine people. A few days before that, two Walmart workers were killed by another worker at a store in Southaven, Mississippi.
In the aftermath of the El Paso shooting, Walmart ordered workers to remove video game signs and displays that depict violence from stores nationwide.
Texas state police cars block the access to the Walmart store in the aftermath of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas on Aug. 3, 2019. (Andres Leighton/File Photo via AP)
By Annie D’Innocenzio