By Sarah Nassauer
Walmart Inc. said it will stop selling ammunition for assault-style rifles and handguns, further restricting the retailer's gun-related sales and policies after two deadly shootings in Walmart stores last month.
Ammunition that can be used in high-capacity clips on assault-style guns, as well as all handgun ammunition will no longer be sold in stores, the company said. Walmart ended the sale of handguns in all stores except those in Alaska over two decades ago, but will now stop in the state as well.
"As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same," Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon said in an email to employees Tuesday. "Our remaining assortment will be even more focused on the needs of hunting and sport-shooting enthusiasts."
Mr. McMillon said the company has no plans to discontinue all gun sales, adding that it has a long history of serving the hunting community and that founder Sam Walton was an avid hunter. The retailer's firearm selection is focused on hunting rifles and shotguns.
"I'm a gun owner myself," Mr. McMillon said on a conference call. "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," he said. "The status quo is unacceptable."
Although it is one of the biggest U.S. sellers of firearms and ammunition, Walmart has been gradually tightening its policies as the nation confronts a rash of mass shootings. In 2015, it stopped selling assault-style rifles. Last year the company raised the minimum age to purchase guns or ammunition to 21 after a deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.
Last month, a gunman walked into an El Paso, Texas, Walmart with an AK-style semiautomatic rifle and killed 22 people, in one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history. Earlier that week a Walmart employee shot and killed two other workers in a Mississippi Walmart store.
Walmart will no longer allow shoppers to carry firearms openly inside any of its stores. Shoppers with concealed-carry permits can continue to carry guns, the company said.
Since the El Paso shooting, there have been multiple incidents in Walmart stores involving people carrying weapons that frightened workers and customers, causing stores to be evacuated and local law-enforcement to be called, Mr. McMillon said in his email. "We are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms," he said.
Some activists and employees have called for Walmart to end gun sales or stop giving money to politicians that support the National Rifle Association. Walmart, the country's largest retailer, didn't specify any changes to its political giving.
The company sells around 2% of firearms and 20% of the ammunition in the U.S., Walmart said as part of its quarterly earnings release last month, adding that it believes those figures place it outside the top three sellers of guns in the country. After taking some types of ammunition off shelves, Walmart said Tuesday that it expected its market share of ammunition sales to fall to around 6% to 9% over time.
Mr. McMillon said last month that he was rethinking the retailer's role in confronting gun violence. At the time, Walmart didn't offer specific plans or changes to its firearms and ammunition sales.
Most firearms aren't sold at big retail chains, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Guns are often purchased at thousands of unaffiliated gun shops or gun shows.
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