LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) – Walmart says it will discontinue the sale of handgun and short-barrel rifle ammunition and also publicly request that customers refrain from openly carrying firearms in stores even where states laws allow it.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based discounter said Tuesday it will stop selling short-barrel and handgun ammunition after it runs out of its current inventory. It will also discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking its complete exit from handguns and allowing it to focus on hunting rifles and related ammunition only.
It will also discontinue handgun sales in Alaska. Walmart stopped selling handguns in the mid-1990s, with the exception of Alaska.
In a letter to associates, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon made the announcement, writing, “As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same.”
The world’s largest retailer announced the move in response to a mass shooting that claimed seven lives in Odessa, Texas, and follows two other back-to-back shootings last month, one of them at a Walmart store.
According to CBS News, the 36-year-old gunman who killed seven people and wounded 22 others in West Texas on Saturday purchased his AR-style rifle from a private seller, federal law enforcement sources confirmed to CBS News.
The purchase allowed Seth Aaron Ator to evade a federal background check. Sources also say the gunman was previously denied a gun purchase because he was determined to be mentally unfit.
Online court records show the gunman was arrested in 2001 for a misdemeanor offense that would not have prevented him from legally purchasing firearms in Texas.
It’s unclear how the move will affect Walmart stores in Southern California, where state laws already prohibit the sale of some ammunition and firearms. The company also didn’t specify whether the new policy will impact online sales.
Shoppers at a Walmart store in Duarte had mixed opinions on the new policy.
“Honestly I don’t agree so much with it,” said one man. “You shouldn’t put any regulation on our Second Amendment.”
“In the wake of tragedy people do change their priorities or business planning,” another shopper said. “I’ll continue to shop here.”
But Walmart is not the only company altering its policies in light of recent events.
The nation’s largest grocery store chain, Kroger, announced Tuesday evening that it would be asking customers to refrain from openly carrying firearms while visiting its stores. The chain — which includes grocery stores such as Ralph’s and Food 4 Less — previously followed local and state laws on the matter.
A spokesperson for Kroger also said the company will call on lawmakers to pass gun reform laws — including requiring stronger background checks.