Is this move away from ammo and gun sales politically motivated, or is it something simpler?
We’ve recently heard that, in the wake of a mass shooting in Texas, Walmart has announced that they intend to stop selling handguns in Alaska (the only state in which they still sell them) as well as a wide range of ammunition, and additionally has changed their open-carry policy. Given the recent antics of other large national retailers–like Dick’s flaccid take on the Second Amendment–the first question American gun owners have is whether this is a politically motivated decision. The second question would be what, if anything, we can do about it. What’s interesting is that, despite the timing of this announcement, there are some fairly compelling reasons to think that this has little to do with politics…and everything to do with money.
The most salient thing to know about Walmart is that it did not become a retailing colossus by making politically motivated decisions. They’ve regally ignored decades of complaints about how the opening of a Walmart on the outskirts of any given town means that the downtown will be a deserted wasteland within two years. They’ve been unmoved by complaints of all sorts of borderline labor abuses. What’s more, Walmart makes no decisions without first carefully examining the ramifications from every angle. This is a company that has efficiency experts who design the way their trucks are loaded down to the last square inch of space to maximize profit. If they have chosen to stop selling certain items, they’ve done it for no reason other than that they aren’t making (what they feel) is enough money per square foot of floor space.
At this point, you may be asking yourself why, if this is not politically motivated, would Walmart they announce this decision now? And why would they follow it up with a change to their open-carry policy, requesting that customers not OC their self-defense guns even in states where it’s legal to do that? It’s this writer’s opinion that Walmart has long since carried out their studies about how much money their gun-sales section makes versus how much it could make if they were selling something else. Think about it: An organization that massive, with that many stores and so much infrastructure in place to keep those stores stocked, couldn’t possibly have come to this decision in the 72 hours or so that separated the most recent shooting and the Walmart announcement.
That doesn’t mean that the timing is an accident. Combined with the change to the Walmart open-carry policy–which up until now has simply mirrored state and local laws–this was definitely intended to send a message. That message, in this writer’s opinion, is as follows: “We would like to have our cake and eat it, too.” Since the decision was most likely already made, capitalizing on it in the wake of a mass shooting allows for massive amounts of free publicity as well as a nice politically correct sop to gun banners.
But why would Walmart ignore the rights and desires of rural Second Amendment supporters, a core part of their customer base? Well, they know quite well that those people will often have little choice but to shop at Walmart no matter how they feel about the company. (Remember all those dead downtowns?)
So what are the leading pro-gun organizations saying? Well, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which represents the interests of the gun industry, had a fairly noncommittal comment:
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has always respected the right of companies in our industry to make business decisions that they feel are in the best interest of their business and customers. While we are disappointed by Walmart’s announcement today that it has decided to stop selling certain types of ammunitions used in a wide variety of firearms, along with discontinuing the sale of handguns in their Alaska stores, NSSF appreciates Walmart’s continuing commitment to America’s hunters and recreational target shooters and their equipment needs, as sportsmen and women represent tens of millions of responsible gun owners in this country.
The National Rifle Association, on the other hand, came out a bit more bellicose:
It is shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites. Lines at Walmart will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America’s fundamental freedoms. The truth is Walmart’s actions today will not make us any safer. Rather than place the blame on the criminal, Walmart has chosen to victimize law-abiding Americans.
As customers, we can certainly choose to vote with our wallets, and many of us will do exactly that. However, for some of us, boycotting Walmart would mean driving an extra hour to get our shopping done. That’s a lot to ask. That said, we can also look at this as an opportunity to support local gun retailers with our dollars…although, sadly, our local gun stores probably won’t have people dressed like a melting mermaid waxwork to amuse us while we wait for our NICS check to go through.
Will this decision by Walmart change your shopping habits? Tell us in the comments!
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