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The CEO of Walmart Takes a Stand on Gun Violence

After tragedies in Mississippi and Texas, Walmart's CEO has taken a strong stand on gun violence, and is urging political leaders to take action.
By Leon Kaye

After tragedies in Mississippi and Texas, along with numerous incidents across the U.S. that involved citizens who had good and bad intentions, Walmart has taken an even firmer stand on firearms.

To those who thought the world’s largest retailer was being far too silent on gun violence, Walmart CEO Doug McMillion explained that the company’s priorities were first supporting its employees and affected families while working with law enforcement.

“We’ve also been listening to a lot of people inside and outside our company as we think about the role we can play in helping to make the country safer. It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,” McMillon said in a public statement.

Adding to previous decisions to stop selling certain firearms, McMillon announced that Walmart will enact even more policies related to gun safety. These include discontinuing the sales of “short-barrel” rifle ammunition, cease selling of handgun ammunition and end all gun sales in Alaska, the last state in which Walmart still sells handguns.

And in a move that will certainly infuriate citizens who are adamant about what they say are their Second Amendment rights, McMillion asked that customers no longer openly carry firearms into any Walmart or Sam’s Club locations in states where “open carry” laws are on the books.

“As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” McMillon explained, mindful that these decisions will not please all of the company’s customers.

Additional steps Walmart said it will take include working with other retailers to make stores safer. “We will treat law-abiding customers with respect, and we will have a very non-confrontational approach,” McMillon said, inferring his company will move fast to adopt these new policies while making all customers feel welcome. “Our priority is your safety. We will be providing new signage to help communicate this policy in the coming weeks.”

Finally, McMillon made it clear that his company, as well as others in all industries, can no longer stay silent on the most polarizing issues of today. He urged the U.S. Congress and other political leaders to take action. “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,” he said. “We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness.”

Whether everyone agrees with Walmart’s evolved stance on guns or not, it’s clear the company is moving in one direction. “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. The status quo is unacceptable,” McMillon said as he concluded his public letter.

Editor's note: Be sure to join us this fall at 3BL Forum: Brands Taking Stands – What’s Next, at MGM National Harbor, just outside Washington, D.C., on October 29-30, 2019. One theme we’ll explore is how companies, with employees at the helm, are reinventing themselves – whether it’s redefining their purpose, making social impact commitments or finding where to put a stake in the ground. Receive a 25 percent discount using this code NEWS2019BRANDS when you register here.

Image credit: Pixabay

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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