Update, September 8, 2019: Just over a month after the El Paso, TX shooting, several major retail chains are following Walmart's footsteps in urging customers to no longer open carry in their stores.
On Thursday, both CVS and Walgreens issued statements asking customers to refrain from bringing firearms into their stores, while Wegmans made a statement on Twitter with a similar sentiment. CVS has 9,900 locations in the U.S., while Walgreens has 9,500 and Wegmans has 99 stores in the Northeast, The New York Times reports. Kroger, which has more than 2,700 stores, has also urged customers to leave their firearms behind. And Albertsons Companies', with its 2,268 stores nationwide (including Vons, Winn-Dixie, and Safeway), joined them in requesting that patrons not open carry in its stores.
The announcements were applauded by gun control advocates. "Americans should be able to shop with their families without the fear of gun violence," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, in a statement. "These decisions by CVS, Wegmans, Walmart, Kroger, and Walgreens this week demonstrate that not only is standing up for gun safety the right thing to do — it is no longer controversial."
Update, September 3, 2019: About a month since the mass shooting in the El Paso, TX, Walmart, the superstore has announced that it plans to stop selling handgun ammunition and ammunition used in assault weapons, according to CNN. Walmart also plans to stop selling handguns in Alaska, the only state where it still does so. And, it is discouraging open carry among customers.
"It's clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement on Tuesday.
Walmart will continue to sell rifles and shotguns, as well as allow concealed carry where permitted.
This story was originally published on August 9, 2019.
Despite the fact that there is no known link between video games and gun violence, Walmart has chosen to remove violent video game displays and signs from their sales floor in the wake of a shooting that killed 22 people in one of their El Paso stores.
They will, however, continue to sell the actual violent video games. They will also continue to sell guns.
“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week,” said spokeswoman Tara House in an email to The Associated Press on Friday.
Gunman Patrick Crusius, 21, has been charged with capital murder for opening fire in the El Paso Walmart. He allegedly published a hate-filled anti-immigration manifesto shortly before driving 10 hours from his home in Allen, Texas to the largely Latino border city to carry out the massacre.
In response to the shooting, employees at Walmart's e-commerce offices walked out in protest of the retailers' gun policies. The Washington Post reports that Walmart "sells guns in about half of its 4,750 U.S. stores, making it one of the nation’s largest retailers of firearms and ammunition."
Organizers also started a Change.org petition demanding that company executives "cease the sale of all firearms and ammunition, ban the public open and concealed carry of weapons on company property and in all stores, and cease WALPAC donations to NRA backed -A/A+ politicians." The petition currently has over 50,000 signatures.
On Friday, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren called on Walmart to stop selling guns. She cited the example of CVS, who stopped selling tobacco products in 2014 out of concern for public health.
Earlier this week, Walmart CEO Doug McMillion promised in an Instagram post that the company would "work to understand the many important issues arising from El Paso and Southaven as well as those raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence.”
Walmart's policy on gun sales has changed in the past: In 2015, following the Sandy Hook shooting, the company stopped selling assault rifles and in response to the Parkland, Florida shooting last year they ended the sale of all weapons to anyone under the age of 21.