Earlier this week, corporate giant Walmart announced their decision to end the sale of some firearms and ammunition throughout their stores. The world’s largest retailer will no longer sell handguns, most handgun ammunition, and certain rifle ammunition. The decision was condemned by many conservative political pundits and social media users.
The retailer is also facing criticism for several inaccuracies contained in their press release announcing the change of policy. Although the company promised to end the sale of all handgun ammunition, it appears the stores will continue to sell .22 caliber ammo. The rimfire cartridge is used by a variety of handguns.
The company also inaccurately described the criteria for discontinuing their sales of certain rifle ammunition. In their press release, Walmart claimed they would be ending the sale of “short-barreled rifle ammunition.” However, their new restrictions have nothing to do with the length of a rifle’s barrel. The new rules simply target the .223 and 7.62 ammunition commonly used by AR and AK platform rifles.
Earlier this month, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon advocated for stricter background checks and a ban on certain types of rifles. “In the national conversation around gun safety, we’re encouraged that broad support is emerging to strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger,” McMillon recently stated. “The reauthorization of the assault weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness in keeping weapons made for war out of the hands of mass murderers.”
It’s worth noting that Walmart sold countless AR-15 platform rifles following the expiration of the 1994 ban. The company eventually discontinued sales of the rifle in 2015. AR-15 platform firearms are the popular rifles in the United States.
The 1994 ban referenced by McMillon did not actually block the sale, transfer, or purchase of the rifles. It simply banned the importation and manufacturing of certain semi-automatic rifles until the law expired in 2004. Several studies, including one published by the Oxford University Press, found the ban had no effect on homicide rates.
Although commonly referred to as “assault weapons,” AR and AK platform rifles function identically to other semi-automatic rifles. The term does not describe an actual category of firearms, instead vaguely referring to the appearance of a rifle. In contrast, Second Amendment advocates frequently refer to AR and AK platform firearms as “sport rifles.”
Opponents of gun control have criticized the retailer’s announcement. During a recent episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the Fox News host slammed Walmart’s decision. Carlson accused the company of exploiting the gun debate in order to distract from their other controversies.
“The company more responsible than any other company for destroying and degrading rural America, for making our towns uglier and cheaper and poorer. The same people who pushed the appalling lie that brightly colored plastic crap from China is going to make us happy. That company is now lecturing normal Americans, the very Americans that they have hurt, how immoral they are for daring to protect themselves with firearms,” Carlson said during the program.
The host went on to accuse the retailer of staffing its stores with part-time employees in an attempt to avoid providing their workers with benefits. “Meanwhile, the federal government—you, taxpayers—will subsidize their low wages with welfare benefits. In other words, ‘You are working, so the Walton family won’t have to pay their employees enough to live,'” Carlson told his audience. “But we’re not talking about it because Walmart is now pushing gun control.”