Wal-Mart reportedly is dropping gun sales in about 1,000 of its more than 3,000 U.S. stores on account of demand in those communities. For example, a new upscale Wal-Mart opened recently in Plano, Texas, sans guns but with plenty of less dangerous sporting goods, such as home fitness gadgets.  (Careful, though. Don’t drop a dumbbell on your toe.)

Wal-Mart sells only rifles and shotguns, not handguns, except in Alaska, but nobody sells more hunting weapons.

We asked Wal-Mart PR whether this decision affects any Arkansas stores. Dare they? The response:

Thank you for your message regarding Wal-Mart’s recent merchandising decision in our sporting goods category. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide a listing of stores impacted in your state.

As a retailer, we make decisions every day on what products to offer our customers based on customer demand. In order for each of our stores to be a “store of the community” and offer merchandise that is relevant to that specific community and customer base, we recently made a business decision no longer to offer firearms in approximately 1,000 locations.

We began phasing out firearm sales in these stores earlier this year. In store where there is sufficient demand, nothing will change.

We will continue to evaluate our merchandise selection store-by-store to make sure we remain relevant to the majority of our customers.

Here’s some insight on why Wal-Mart might reconsider stocking guns. From an article in The Nation, which discussed a successful citizens’ fight against a Wal-Mart in suburban California:

After one large, mainstream black church joined the anti-Wal-Mart fight, the rest followed, not just lending passive endorsement but enthusiastically rallying their forces. Another helpful issue was crime – Wal-Mart is the nation’s leading purveyor of guns. To rural white communities, that’s often a political asset, but to urban black voters it’s a harsh liability. In the last few days of the Inglewood campaign, the anti-Wal-Mart coalition hung a flier in the shape of an M-16 rifle on everybody’s door. “Some on our side felt it was a scare tactic,” Janis-Aparicio admits, but, she adds with justified pride, “it had a powerful impact.”