Deadly shootings at two Walmart locations in the past few weeks have prompted the retailer to temporarily remove advertising displays for violent video games from its stores.
The retail giant announced the change Thursday, saying the decision was made out of respect for those impacted by the shootings.
“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment,” spokeswoman Tara House told USA TODAY in a statement.
Apparently Walmart is telling its employees to take down displays that show violent video games, specifically shooters, as well as movies and hunting videos. pic.twitter.com/2N3t4B86tf
— Kenneth Shepard (@shepardcdr) August 7, 2019
The move comes after a lone gunman entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas last Saturday and opened fire, leaving 22 people dead. The suspect, 21-year- old Patrick Crusius, confessed to officers that he was targeting Mexicans in the rampage that has left the quiet border town shaken, and on edge.
In a separate shooting at a Walmart store in Mississippi last Tuesday, two store managers were gunned down by a disgruntled ex-employee. Then, a man sporting tactical gear, a bullet-proof vest and carrying an assault rifle caused quite the panic when he entered a Missouri Walmart two days later.
Authorities took him into custody without incident.
Despite pressure from gun control advocates calling on the retailer to halt its sales of firearms, Walmart, one of the nation’s leading sellers of guns and ammunition, said it doesn’t plan on it.
‘’There’s been no change in policy,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove also told USA TODAY, adding that the company has been focused on aiding customers and employees in the El Paso since the mass shooting.
“It’s horrible … what’s happened,” Hargrove added, noting that the company has “always had stringent policies around how we do sell firearms.”
The pushback prompted dozens of employees — 40 to be exact — to stage a walkout at a Walmart e-commerce office in California on Wednesday in a last minute effort to urge the retailer to stop selling guns in the wake of the shootings.
Saturday’s shooting in El Paso was followed by a similar attack at a bar in Dayton, Ohio less than 24 hours later. Nine victims were killed in that shooting and several others were left injured.
Like gun control advocates, several Democratic leaders have called for sweeping gun reform since the shootings, including one at a festival in Gilroy, California two weeks ago, and have underscored the racist white supremacist ideologies held by two of the shooters as cause for concern.
Republicans, including President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), however, have blamed the influence of violent video games for the recent attacks.
“It is too easy today for a troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence,” Trump said after last weekend’s carnage. “We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately.”