Walmart announced Tuesday that it will stop selling ammunition for assault-style weapons and will request that visitors not openly carry firearms in stores after separate shootings at their stores left 24 people dead in the span of a week.
Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon made the announcement in a company memo, noting that the nation's largest retailer will sell its current inventory and then discontinue selling specified types of ammunition.
"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," McMillon wrote. "The status quo is unacceptable."
Walmart had already stopped selling the type of assault-style weapon used in the El Paso shooting that left 22 people dead and dozens wounded on August 3. McMillon's announcement means the company will no longer sell ammunition that can be used in those weapons. Walmart will also no longer sell handgun ammunition in Alaska, the last place in the U.S. where such ammunition was sold.
"This is a big deal," Guns Down America founder and director Igor Volsky told Cheddar. "The fact that the largest retailer in the world, the largest retailer in America is recognizing that if you reduce access to firearms, you can build safer communities."
After the El Paso shooting, employees, politicians, and advocates have been putting pressure on the company to act swiftly. Forty Walmart employees in California walked out last month to protest company gun policies. Volsky and Guns Down America asked people around the company to deliver "Walmart Must Act" letters to local Walmarts.
"We heard from countless Walmart employees who told us they had printed out that letter and they had given it to their supervisors," Volsky said.
Earlier this month, 2020 Democratic candidates asked the company to stop selling guns after the mass shooting in the El Paso Walmart killed 22 people.
In addition to announcing changed store policies, McMillon said he is calling on President Trump and Congressional leaders to enact a "common sense measure."
"What was instrumental here is you saw Walmart now pledging to use some of its political clout and political leverage to lobby for gun reform," Volsky said. "I think that's incredibly significant."
McMillon said the company does not plan to discontinue all gun sales, but "our remaining assortment will be even more focused on the needs of hunting and sport-shooting enthusiasts," he said.