Doug McMillon, the chief executive of Walmart, issued a statement today supporting debate in Congress on the effectiveness of renewing a 1994 law that banned sale of assault weapons. He stopped short of endorsing such a ban.
Walmart has been in the midst of controversy since deadly shootings in two stores. Gun safety advocates have called on the chain to stop selling guns. It doesn’t sell handguns or military-style semi-automatic weapons, but has continued to sell hunting weapons. It has also come under fire for allowing open carry in stores where open carry is legal. This contributed to a case in Springfield, Mo., where a man walked into a Walmart with a semi-automatic weapon and extra ammo. A concealed carry permit holder made a citizen’s arrest of the man, who said he was only demonstrating his 2nd Amendment right.
The Federal Assault Weapons ban expired in 2004.
McMillon said Walmart also spoke favorably about a stronger background check law and laws that could allow weapons to be taken from people who pose threats.
McMillon made the statement in the company’s second-quarter earnings report.
His comments related to guns in full:
Our hearts continue to be with our associates in El Paso and
Southaven and we are focused on the safety of our associates and customers in all our stores and clubs. Those tragic and painful events will be with us forever, and our hearts go out to the families that were impacted.
I continue to be amazed by the courage, resilience and caring of our people. As it’s become clearer that the shooting in El Paso was motivated by hate, we are more resolved than ever to foster an inclusive environment where all people are valued and welcomed.
As we’ve shared previously, we will strive to use these experiences to identify additional actions we can take to strengthen our processes, improve our technology and create an even safer environment in our stores. We’re also thinking through the broader issues related to gun violence and things we should do to help create safer communities. We would like for everyone to be reminded of the steps we’ve already taken:
• We stopped selling handguns in every state but Alaska in the mid90s.
• We stopped selling military-style rifles such as the AR-15 in 2015.
• We raised the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21 in 2018.
• Walmart only sells a firearm after receiving a “green light” on a background check, while federal law only requires the absence of a “red light” after three business days. We don’t sell a firearm until we receive a “green light” regardless of the time period.
• We videotape the point of sale for firearms, only allow certain associates to sell firearms, and secure firearms in a locking case with individual locks, among other measures.
We’ve attempted to take common sense steps that allow us to serve customers and create a safer environment. We estimate that we represent about 2 percent of the market for firearms today, which we believe places us outside at least the top three sellers in the industry. We estimate we have about a 20 percent share of ammunition.
In the national conversation around gun safety, we’re encouraged that broad support is emerging to strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger. We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness in keeping weapons made for war out of the hands of mass murderers. We must also do more to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior.