Walmart’s Doug McMillon is a corporate hero
Taking responsibility. What a concept! One month after a mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart in which 48 were shot and 22 died, Walmart announced that it will no longer sell ammunition for military-style weapons and ammunition for handguns in any of its 4,000 stores.
It expects its market share of ammunition to decline from around 20 percent to 6 to 9 percent. In an open letter to employees explaining his decision, Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon said his company has been listening to a lot of people, “as we think about the role we can play in helping make the country safer. It is clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.”
Walmart had previously stopped selling handguns and military-style rifles such as the AR-15, raised the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21, and required a “green light” on a background check to complete a sale, rather than merely requiring the absence of a “red light.”
The company will continue selling firearms for hunting and sport. But it is clearly not accepting the gun lobby’s pretense that AR-15s are just ordinary “modern sporting rifles.” Instead, they are military-style weapons designed for rapid fire with large capacity magazines that increase the number of rounds that can be fired without reloading.
In contrast to Walmart’s responsible actions, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate refuse to take responsibility for helping to prevent gun deaths and gun violence. They distract us from reasonable public safety measures with a wagonload of excuses and diversions. Meanwhile, the corporate gun lobby bankrolls legislators, so long as they refuse to take any responsibility for the safety of Americans.
Mr. McMillon’s open letter to Walmart employees is not only about Walmart. He encourages national leaders to consider a reauthorization of an assault weapons ban and also to “strengthen background checks.” Most Americans agree; more than 90 percent support “requiring background checks for all gun buyers,” according to a Quinnipiac poll released Jan. 14, 2019.
But the gun lobby opposes this policy as well. That’s because gun makers can sell more firearms if many gun sales are done with no background check. Unfortunately, criminals, domestic abusers and other “prohibited persons,” are especially likely to purchase firearms without background checks.
Doug McMillon, a gun owner whose family raised bird dogs when he was growing up in Jonesboro, Ark., is a corporate hero, who has taken responsible leadership when Republicans in the U.S. Senate and many corporate leaders in the thrall of the gun lobby have failed us.
Thank you, Walmart.
Griffin Dix, Ph.D., is president of the Oakland/Alameda County (Calif.) Brady chapter and served on the Brady Board of Trustees from 2006 through 2008. He was research director at MacWEEK. His 15-year-old son was shot and killed in 1994. Since his son was killed, Dix has worked with a coalition that has helped to pass many state laws to prevent gun violence, including laws establishing semiautomatic handgun product safety standards. He is writing a memoir about the loss of his son, his lawsuit against Beretta USA and his work on gun violence prevention. Follow him on Twitter @griffindix.