Walmart on Tuesday announced it will reduce gun and ammunition sales, a month after more than 20 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso.
America's largest retailer said it will stop selling handgun ammunition and "short-barrel rifle ammunition," such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber, also used in assault-style weapons. The stores will sell out their current inventory.
Walmart also will request customers to no longer openly carry guns into its 4,700 U.S. stores, or its Sam's Club stores, in states like Texas that allow open carry.
"It's clear to us the status quo is unacceptable," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a memo to employees.
The mega-retailer, however, will continue to sell long-barrel deer rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition for those guns.
The impact of the policy change – if any – on Palestine's Walmart store is unclear, but one local gun owner and hunter said it won't stop him from shopping at Walmart.
“Honestly I don't really care,” Ross Blake, 30, a state corrections officer, told the Herald-Press Tuesday. “To me, (Walmart's) a grocery store, not an outfitter.
“I understand they are asking people to not open carry; again, I don't care. I personally prefer concealed. The only thing that would make me think twice about Walmart is if they outright banned carrying a weapon in all forms.
“I support allowing any business to make its own decisions on how it runs. I also support people’s decisions to choose if they want to support a business, based on how it's run.”
The policy change likely will reduce Walmart's market share of ammunition sales to between 6 percent and 9 percent, from about 20% now, company officials said Tuesday.
McMillon also called on the White House and congress to act on “common sense” gun safety measures, including expanding background checks, and to debate re-authorizing the assault-weapons ban.
"We encourage our nation's leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks, and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger," McMillon said. "Congress and the administration should act.
“Given our decades of experience selling firearms, we are also offering to serve as a resource in the national debate on responsible gun sales."
Walmart will stop selling handguns in Alaska, the only state where it still sells them.
Recent mass shootings, including those in El Paso and Odessa, drove Walmart's decision, McMillon said.
The changes in gun policies are Walmart's latest in recent years, as the company strives to balance store safety with the needs and desires of a large chunk of its customer base, Dan Bartlett, Walmart executive vice president of corporate affairs, told reporters.
In 2015, Walmart stopped selling assault rifles; it later raised its minimum gun-purchasing age to 21. In the mid-1990s, Walmart stopped selling handguns in every state but Alaska.
On Aug. 3, a Walmart in El Paso experienced one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
Since then, Walmart has faced mounting pressure to remove firearms from its stores and stop selling pro-gun T-shirts on its website.