A spokesperson for Walmart says the company will not change its policy on gun sales and open carry despite the mass shooting at one of its stores in El Paso on Saturday. A man with an assault rifle killed 20 and injured more than two dozen other people, and two more have since died of their wounds. The incident followed a July 30 shooting at a Walmart in Mississippi in which an employee fatally shot two co-workers.
The Washington Post interviewed Randy Hargrove, the director of national media relations, who is based in Bentonville.
“There has been no change in company policy,” spokesman Randy Hargrove said in an interview. “With this incident just having happened over the weekend, our focus has been on supporting associates, customer and the El Paso community.”
Walmart is one of the largest sellers of guns and ammunition, the Post reported, with guns on sale at half of its 4,750 U.S. stores, including Arkansas. It does not sell assault-style rifles, however, and has raised the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy guns and ammunition.
CEO Doug McMillon, meanwhile, posted on Instagram “I can’t believe I’m sending a note like this twice in one week.”
The New York Times posted an open letter to McMillon on Aug. 5, noting the huge economic power the company holds:
In the depths of this crisis lies an opportunity: for you to help end this violence.
You, singularly, have a greater chance to use your role as the chief executive of the country’s largest retailer and largest seller of guns — with greater sway over the entire ecosystem that controls gun sales in the United States than any other individual in corporate America. …
Some critics have suggested that Walmart stop selling guns entirely, but you can use your influence over gun makers for good.
You could threaten gun makers that you will stop selling any of their weapons unless they begin incorporating fingerprint technology to unlock guns, for example. You could develop enhanced background checks and sales processes and pressure gun makers to sell only to retailers that follow those measures.
You have leverage over the financial institutions that offer banking and financing services to gun makers and gun retailers as well as those that lend money to gun buyers. You could use your heft to influence banks and credit card systems to change their processes around tracking gun sales. They have none.