Walmart Curbs Ammunition Sales, Calls For Stronger Background Checks Walmart will phase out handgun and short-barrel rifle ammunition. It's also restricting "open carry" in stores. A month ago, two shootings happened at two Walmarts in one week.

Walmart Curbs Ammunition Sales, Calls For Stronger Background Checks

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Some other news now, in this country - Walmart is cutting back on sales of ammunition. It's also asking people not to openly carry guns into Walmart stores. The company - which is, by the way, an NPR sponsor - acted after two shootings at two Walmart stores within one week. NPR's Alina Selyukh reports.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: There is a story about Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, about how he came to live in Bentonville, Ark., where Walmart is headquartered. He wanted good hunting, which the area offered, which is to say, at Walmart, the history of gun sales runs deep. But the company has slowly moved away from guns, says Robert Spitzer, gun policy expert at SUNY Cortland.

ROBERT SPITZER: They had decided in 2015 that they were not going to sell assault-type weapons anymore. They also have not sold handguns in many, many years.

SELYUKH: Except in Alaska, where now Walmart says it will stop selling handguns for good. Last year Walmart also stopped selling all guns and ammo to people under 21. As of this week, Walmart is asking shoppers to stop openly carrying guns in its stores, even if the state allows it. One exception is for law enforcement. Within hours, another retailer, Kroger, made the same request. But the biggest new change at Walmart is in ammunition sales. Walmart will stop selling ammo for handguns and short-barreled rifles, which can be used in assault-style weapons. Walmart says this will reduce its market share in ammunition from 20% percent to about 6% to 9%.

RANDI WEINGARTEN: I think it's a big deal. And I think that that's an important step, and it sends a message that something has to change.

SELYUKH: Randi Weingarten is normally a Walmart critic. She runs the American Federation of Teachers, one of the groups calling on Walmart to stop selling guns altogether. These calls escalated after 22 people died in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Just four days earlier, a former employee shot and killed two Walmart workers in Mississippi. On Tuesday, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote to workers that, after those events, the company will never be the same. And he's lending his voice to the political conversation, calling on Washington to strengthen background checks and make other changes. He says the status quo is unacceptable.

Alina Selyukh, NPR News.


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