Walmart CEO Doug McMillon is Using His Platform to Change American Gun Culture

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Photo by Megan Jelinger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon, a gun owner, is using his influential platform to engage with the Congress and the White House over gun legislation to ensure that real, urgent changes are made. “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,” he explained. “As we’ve seen before, these horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades. We should not allow that to happen.” 

According to a disheartening analysis conducted by the Washington Post, the public tends to lose interest in coverage of mass shootings about three weeks after the incident. McMillon hasn’t moved on; instead, he announced yesterday that the retail chain is curbing its sales of ammunition, reducing its market share from 20 percent down to somewhere between 6 and 9 percent. In addition to shrinking down its inventory, it will no longer be adding any more handgun ammunition and .223 and .556 caliber ammunition to its shelves, as the latter can be used in military-style weapons — like the one that the Odessa shooter used during his deadly rampage this past Saturday. (The Odessa shooter purchased his weapon through a private sale, which at this time doesn’t require a background check.) Walmart has also decided to phase out handgun sales currently available in their Alaska stores, further emphasizing their move toward catering to hunters and sport shooters rather than toward hobbyists. 

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Influencing the decision to pare back on gun and ammunition sales, McMillon cited the El Paso shooting and another that took the lives of two Walmart employees in Southaven, Mississippi. “As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” he said in a memo to his employees. “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, memo. It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.” 

The company has also asked that its customers no longer openly carry guns onto the premises, unless doing so in the capacity of a law enforcement agent. A spokesperson for Walmart emphasized to CNN that these decisions were made with everyday gun owners in mind. “We feel like we are striking a responsible balance between the interests of law-abiding citizens who are exercising their legal rights and the safety concerns of our associates and customers.”