After a string of deadly mass shootings, including one at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, the company announced Tuesday it is planning to stop selling ammunition for handguns and short-barrel rifles.
It also plans to discontinue handgun sales in Alaska and is asking customers not to openly carry guns into its stores.
The move would mark the company’s “complete exit from handguns,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a memo to associates Tuesday.
“…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.,” McMillon said.
The company, which consistently tops the list of America’s largest retailers, has already decided to stop selling handguns or military-style rifles such as the AR-15s and to raise the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21.
Walmart also added a requirement that people looking to purchase guns get a “green light” on a background check, while federal law only requires the absence of a “red light,” McMillon said.
The company also decided to videotape the point of sale for firearms and to only allow certain trained associates to sell firearms.
“We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand,” McMillon said. “As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same.”
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Patrick Crusius after he allegedly sprayed a Walmart in El Paso with bullets, killing 22 people and injuring dozens of others August 3, according to CBS News.
“Just a few days prior, two of our associates were killed by another associate in our store in Southaven, Mississippi,” McMillon said. “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.”
In the most recent Texas incident, mail carrier Mary Granados was alone in her U.S. Postal Service truck when she was shot and killed by a gunman who hijacked the vehicle as he abandoned his own car.
Granados, 29, and six others were killed, and another 22, including three police officers and a toddler, were wounded during a roving mass shooting that began when 36-year-old Seth Ator opened fire on police with an assault-style rifle during a routine traffic stop on I-20 outside of Odessa, Texas.
“In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again,” McMillon said. “The status quo is unacceptable.”
Walmart will continue to sell long-barrel deer rifles and shotguns and much of the ammunition they require, as well as hunting and sporting accessories and apparel.
“As an additional step, we commit we will work alongside other retailers to make the overall industry safer, including sharing our best practices,” McMillon said.
He gave as an example work the company is exploring to share with other companies a technology platform to keep them in the loop regarding technical specifications and compliance control standards.
The system navigates tens of millions of possible combinations of federal, state and local laws, regulations and licensing requirements.
“Finally, we encourage our nation’s leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger,” McMillon said.
He called out the White House and Congress specifically to determine the effectiveness of an assault ban, which is a reference to legislation signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in the 1994 crime bill.
It prohibited the civilian use of semi-automatic firearms until the legislation expired in 2004.
“Today, I’m sending letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership that call for action on these common sense measures,” McMillon said. “Congress and the administration should act.”
“Our priority is your safety,” he added.
Walmart has already received pushback from gun-rights activists and the National Rifle Association.
“It is shameful to see @Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites,” the powerful association said on Twitter Tuesday. “Lines at Walmart will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America’s fundamental freedoms.”