Finally, Some Real Gun Reform (At Walmart)

Photo: Sandy Huffaker (Getty)

The deadliest of August’s many mass shootings took place at a Walmart in El Paso, where a Fox News-echoing white supremacist murdered 22 people. And since we don’t have a functioning federal government that’s willing to respond to this problem, there was some hope that the second-largest employer in the United States and one of the largest gun ammunition sellers in the country would do, I don’t know, anything at all to try to stop gun violence.

Now, we know what that looks like.

On Tuesday, after another mass shooting claimed seven lives in Texas over the weekend, Walmart announced that it would discontinue all handgun ammunition sales, as well as ammunition that can be used in high-capacity magazines on assault weapons, according to the Wall Street Journal. Walmart also said that it would stop selling handguns in its stores in Alaska, the last state in which it was still selling handguns. And finally, the company is also asking its customers not to open carry in the store anymore in states which allow that to happen.

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Saying that the “status quo is unacceptable” while boasting of his gun owner bonafides, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon explained the decision in a Tuesday memo to Walmart workers. “We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results,” McMillon said in the memo. “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.”

McMillion’s memo also said he was writing letters to the White House and Congress, calling for “common sense” reforms and for Congress to “strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger.”

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What Walmart didn’t do, on the other hand, was pull out of the gun business entirely. Considering one of the deadliest shootings this year took place just last month at a Walmart, it’s a pretty clear cut example of corporate hell that the company would value a minor piece of its extremely lucrative, far-reaching business over an acknowledgment that its workers and customers have the right to be safe. According to what it reported in its previous quarterly earnings, Walmart makes up about 2 percent of the share of the firearms market, and owns roughly one-fifth of the ammunition market.

It’s an indictment of the gun discourse in the United States that Walmart changing its internal policies regarding guns could be considered anything approaching a victory. But right on cue, here’s a reminder that Walmart is, in fact, the same soul-sucking demon of a corporation it’s always been, per CNBC:

Walmart’s remaining assortment in stores “will include long barrel deer rifles and shotguns, much of the ammunition they require, as well as hunting and sporting accessories and apparel,” he said. [Executive vice president of corproate communications Dan] Bartlett also said Walmart’s current sporting goods assortment has a “broad depth” of merchandise to make up for lost sales.

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Well, thank god for that.

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