Exactly one month after the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 people dead and many more injured, Walmart announced it will no longer sell handgun ammunition.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon addressed the retailer’s associates in a memo on the company’s website announcing the decision and the reasons behind it.
McMillon said that after El Paso, as well as the shooting at a Southaven, Mississippi, Walmart that left two associates dead, the company’s priorities have been supporting its associates and focusing on safety and security.
“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,” he wrote. “It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.”
In the memo, the retailer said that it will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition after selling through its current inventory commitments. They said that while the ammo, such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber, is commonly used in some hunting rifles, it can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons.
In addition to discontinuing sales of handgun ammo, the retailer will also discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking the company’s exit from selling handguns.
“We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand,” McMillon wrote. “As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same.”
The retailer will still sell firearms such as long barrel deer rifles and shot guns, as well as much of the ammo they require, and hunting and sporting accessories and apparel.
Walmart also is asking customers to no longer openly carry firearms in stores or Sam’s Clubs, even in states with open carry laws, unless they are authorized law enforcement officers. This stems from multiple incidents where individuals have entered Walmart stores openly carrying weapons in a way that, as McMillon said, frightened or concerned associates and customers.
In one of the more publicized incidents, a man was arrested after walking into a Missouri Walmart carrying a rifle and wearing body armor, less than a week after the El Paso shooting. He was charged with making a terrorist threat.
The memo also made clear that there is no change to the policy regarding customers with permits for concealed carry, which is allowed.
“We encourage our nation’s leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have determined to pose an imminent danger,” McMillon wrote.
He went on to say reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated as well as do more to understand the root causes of this type of violent behavior.
“Given our decades of experience selling firearms, we are also offering to serve as a resource in the national debate on responsible gun sales,” he wrote.