A Walmart spokesman announced on Thursday that the company will stop selling semi-automatic weapons at its stores because sales have declined. In general, gun sales have been strong this summer and FBI officials reported they have conducted nearly 2 million background checks in July for all gun sales, not just semiautomatic weapons. This is up from 1.4 million total background checks in July 2014.
AR-15s have been used in mass shootings including Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., and gun control advocates have long been fighting to restrict the sale of these weapons. Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said the rest of the inventory will be removed as stores transition from summer to fall merchandise. Lundberg said the decision to remove the weapons was not political and that the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer made the decision earlier this year. Lundberg admitted that Walmart has seen a decrease in sales of semi-automatic guns but did not give specific sales numbers. He said stores would increase inventory of other models of shotguns and rifles popular among hunters. He defended the decision by Walmart.
It’s similar to what we do with any product. Being what it is, it gets a little more attention, but it’s the same process for any other product,” “We wanted to make sure when customers are coming and looking to purchase those products, they see the products they want. We see more business from hunters and people shooting clay.”
Over the years, shareholders have pressured Walmart to consider changing its policies of products including weapons that hold high-capacity magazines. Bushmaster variations of the semi-automatic AR-15 have been used in such high-profile mass shootings as the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, and the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Walmart scaled back the number of stores that sold guns around 2006, Lundberg said, but has no plans to stop the sale of guns all together.
Walmart made the announcement a day after two television journalists were murdered on live television by a man with a handgun but the retailer did not mention the shooting. Walmart CEO Douglas McMillion previously indicated this move during a CNN interview last June.
Our focus in terms of firearms 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.”
Wal-Mart recently came under pressure from New York City’s Trinity Church, an investor pushing for tighter oversight of sales of guns with high-capacity magazines. In April a federal court ruled in Wal-Mart’s favor and vacated an injunction that would have required a vote on the issue at its annual shareholders’ meeting in June. The National Shooting Sports Foundation said demand for the type of rifles that will no longer be sold by Wal-Mart remained strong.