(CNSNews.com) - Walmart announced Tuesday that it will no longer allow customers with open carry permits in states that allow them to openly carry firearms in their stores, and it is discontinuing sales of certain ammunition.
In a letter to Walmart associates, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon cited the recent shooting massacres in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently in Midland and Odessa, Texas, as the impetus for the changes.
“A month ago, in El Paso, Texas, a gunman with an assault-style rifle launched a hate-filled attack in our store, shooting 48 people resulting in the loss of 22 innocent lives. Just a few days prior, two of our associates were killed by another associate in our store in Southaven, Mississippi. And hours after the shooting in El Paso, our country experienced another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. This weekend brought tragedy to Midland and Odessa, Texas,” the letter stated.
“In Southaven and El Paso, our associates responded to anger and hate with courage and self-sacrifice. Our immediate priorities were supporting our associates and the impacted families and cooperating with law enforcement. In parallel, we have been focused on store safety and security. 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. It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,” he wrote.
After visiting El Paso on Aug. 6, McMillon said he gave “deliberate” thought about the company’s response.
“We’ve been giving a lot of thought to our sale of firearms and ammunition. We’ve previously made decisions to stop selling handguns or military-style rifles such as the AR-15, to raise the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21, to require a ‘green light’ on a background check while federal law only requires the absence of a ‘red light,’ to videotape the point of sale for firearms and to only allow certain trained associates to sell firearms,” the CEO wrote.
McMillon said the company has decided to “go further” and will ban the sale of “short-barrel rifle ammunition,” which can be used in military-style weapons.
“After selling through our current inventory commitments, we will no longer sell 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,” he wrote.
Additionally, McMillon announced that the company “will sell through and discontinue handgun ammunition” and “discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking our complete exit from handguns.”
He acknowledged that the decision may inconvenience some shoppers, but, he said, “As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same.”
The company will still carry “long barrel deer rifles and shotguns,” McMillon said.
“Our remaining assortment will be even more focused on the needs of hunting and sport shooting enthusiasts. It will include long barrel deer rifles and shotguns, much of the ammunition they require, as well as hunting and sporting accessories and apparel. We believe these actions will reduce our market share of ammunition from around 20% to a range of approximately 6 to 9%. We believe it will likely drift toward the lower end of that range, over time, given the combination of these changes,” he said.
McMillon said the company will also ban customers from openly carrying guns in their stores, even in the states where it is legally allowed.
As it relates to safety in our stores, there have been multiple incidents since El Paso 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.
We have also had well-intentioned customers acting lawfully that have inadvertently caused a store to be evacuated and local law enforcement to be called to respond. These incidents are concerning and we would like to avoid them, so we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where "open carry" is permitted – unless they are authorized law enforcement officers.
We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results. We hope that everyone will understand the circumstances that led to this new policy and will respect the concerns of their fellow shoppers and our associates. As it relates to concealed carry by customers with permits, there is no change to our policy or approach.
This morning, we briefed your leadership team on how to communicate this change in policy to customers when needed, and they will be sharing that with you very soon. We will treat law-abiding customers with respect, and we will have a very non-confrontational approach. Our priority is your safety. We will be providing new signage to help communicate this policy in the coming weeks.