CNBC is reporting that Walmart is no longer allowing gun or ammunition sales to people under 21 years of age, marking the first significant and specific firearm policy change for the world’s largest retailer since it stopped handgun sales in 1993. In 2006, Walmart stopped selling guns in many of its stores, but in 2011 brought back shotguns and rifles to most in order to bolster slumping sales.
This follows Dick’s Sporting Goods’ decision to discontinue selling “assault-style” weapons in the wake of Florida’s Parkland High school shooting, in which 17 students lost their lives to Nikolas Cruz and his AR-15.
“In light of recent events, we’ve taken an opportunity to review our policy on firearm sales. Going forward, we are raising the age restriction for purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21 years of age … We are also removing items from our website resembling assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys. Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way.
n 2015, Walmart ended sales of modern sporting rifles, including the AR-15. We also do not sell handguns, except in Alaska where we feel we should continue to offer them to our customers. Additionally, we do not sell bump stocks, high-capacity magazines and similar accessories. We have a process to monitor our eCommerce marketplace and ensure our policies are applied.
We take seriously our obligation to be a responsible seller of firearms and go beyond Federal law by requiring customers to pass a background check before purchasing any firearm. The law would allow the sale of a firearm if no response to a background check request has been received within three business days, but our policy prohibits the sale until an approval is given.
We are also removing items from our website resembling assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys. Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way.”
In June, 2015, after taking the Confederate flag off their shelves, Walmart CEO Douglas McMillan told CNN Money that the chain would not remove guns from its racks, as it is serving hunters and sportsman: “We believe in serving those customers, we have for a long time, and we believe we should continue to.”
The symbiotic relationship between retailers and gun sales has been at the forefront of the gun control debate for years, with a memorable moment coming from Bowling for Columbine, in which a survivor visits a K-Mart to buy “all” of its ammunition. The 16 and 17-year-old workers end up dropping some all over the floor. That incident led directly to K-Mart phasing out its sale of handgun ammunition.