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Walmart Shoots Down Assault Rifles

Renee Farris headshotWords by Renee Farris
Energy & Environment
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Walmart said it won’t be selling high-powered rifles that hold multiple rounds of ammo anymore. This is a big deal because Walmart is the largest seller of guns and ammunition in the U.S. The retail giant claims the decision was “done purely based on customer demand” because customers were generally not looking to buy assault-style sporting rifles.

However, “sales of rifles are up,” said Arkadi Gerney, the senior vice president of the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress. “What people in the industry say is that these assault rifles are an increasing portion of rifle sales.” Gerney also said that Walmart’s sales have slowed because of tightened background checks and other measures. So, whether sales are up or down is a little unclear.

However, what is clear is that sales will likely increase as people buy up the remaining assault rifles at Walmart. The rifles are being sold at fewer than 4,600 stores and will be removed from these locations within a week or two as stores receive their fall stock.

Gerney continued: “In my experience working with Walmart in 2008, I found them to be extremely concerned about responsible gun sales. They definitely wanted to stay in the market and serve customers who wanted to buy guns, but they were very interested and responsive to ideas about how to make those sales safer and to make it less likely that the guns that they sell were ultimately misused.”

Earlier this year, the chief executive of Walmart, Doug McMillion, told CNN that he wanted to reduce sales on weapons like the one used to murder nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June. High-powered rifles were also used in the Colorado movie theater shooting in July 2012 that left 12 people dead, as well as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a few months later in which 20 children and six adults were murdered.

McMillion said: “Our focus … should be hunters and people who shoot sporting clays, and things like that. So, the types of rifles we sell, the types of ammunition we sell, should be curated for those things.”

In most of the world, people are confused by Americans' desire to own guns. According to Vox, one Australian comedian, Jim Jefferies, once had his home invaded. “He was tied up and beaten, and his girlfriend was threatened with rape. So, you might think he'd sympathize with the idea that Americans want guns to protect their families. Quite the opposite — he does an excellent job of summing up why so many foreigners are baffled by America's gun culture.”

Jefferies explains the thought process of most of the world in this profound yet amusing standup routine. If you decide to watch it, invite Walmart CEO McMillion to sit down and watch it with you.

Image credit: Flickr/Mitch Barrie

Renee Farris headshotRenee Farris

Renee is a social impact strategist who works with companies to help them focus on key social and environmental opportunities. She loves connecting with people so feel free to contact her at renee.a.farris@gmail.com.

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