By Tonya Garcia, MarketWatch
Walmart Inc. Chief Executive Doug McMillon said Thursday there should be a discussion about banning assault weapons in the U.S.
McMillon made the comment as Walmart released fiscal second-quarter earnings, but neither he nor Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s /zigman2/quotes/207374728/composite WMT -1.63% executive vice president of corporate affairs who participated in a media call after the earnings were announced, offered specifics on Walmart’s position on the issue.
The retail giant has been at the center of a discussion on gun violence following the Aug. 3 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart store and a shooting in Mississippi that killed two workers.
Walmart stopped selling military-style rifles including AR-15s in 2015, and ceased selling handguns in every state but Alaska in the mid-1990s.
The retailer raised the age limit to 21 from 18 to buy a gun or ammunition in 2018 after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
“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 said in his comments.
Walmart only sells guns after a background check gets the “green light,” while federal law only requires that there is no “red light” after three business days. And the company will only allow certain employees to sell guns, videotapes the point of sale and has locking cases for firearm security.
“We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe 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,” McMillon said.
“We must also do more to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior.”
Walmart accounts for about 2% of the firearms market today, the company estimates, “which we believe places us outside at least the top three sellers in the industry.” And the retailer says it has about a 20% share of ammunition.
“We think it’s time for Congress to debate,” Bartlett said on the media call. “We’ll lend our perspective. We look forward to the conversation.”
McMillon issued a statement to the company’s associates in the wake of the El Paso shooting in which he said the company was trying to understand the issues that have come out of the shootings at Walmart locations.
“We will be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and we will act in a way that reflects the best values and ideals of our company, with a focus on serving the needs of our customers, associates and communities,” the statement said.