September 5, 2019

New Corporate Gun Policies

On Tuesday, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon announced that it “will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition… handgun ammunition… [and] handgun sales in Alaska, marking our complete exit from handguns [and] we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where ‘open carry’ is permitted.” Walmart

Also on Tuesday, Kroger “followed Walmart in asking shoppers not to openly carry guns in any of its stores, in states where ‘open carry’ is allowed, unless they are authorized law enforcement officers.” CNBC

See past issues

From the Left

The left applauds Walmart for taking action and implores Congress to do the same.

“The country's largest retailer is, at last, bringing its policies in line with how most Americans feel about gun violence… There's also something almost ineffably disheartening about Walmart's news: the apparent desperation of it all. The company arrived at the decision after mass shootings claimed more than 50 lives in a single month. Thus Walmart, a private company, is regulating itself. It must -- not only because of the recent gun violence that's happened in its own store, but also because the government continues to do so little.”
Brandon Tensley, CNN

Walmart is doing more to stop gun violence than Congress… It’s unclear just how much Walmart’s actions will help. Chances are a lot of gun owners will simply take their business elsewhere. But it’s something to reduce access to firearms in the US.”
German Lopez, Vox

“The latest changes are undoubtedly incremental. Yet Walmart’s massive scale — its $514 billion in annual revenue and 165 million weekly U.S. shoppers — means that its policy will have an impact far beyond the walls of its big-box stores. For example, the retailer moved to raise its minimum wage several years ago amid an intensifying competition for labor. This past July, retail wages hit a 15-year high, in part because Walmart spurred industrywide change. So it’s possible Walmart’s new policies will help on the margins to curb gun violence, and may push its competitors to adopt similar changes.”
Sarah Halzack, Bloomberg

“Walmart isn't just any chain of stores in America. It is a massive conglomerate with roots in many of the rural and suburban areas where President Donald Trump did well in 2016 and which are represented by Republicans in Congress. When Walmart speaks, these members of Congress, generally speaking, listen. And what Walmart has done with its move this week on guns and ammo is provide at least some cover from the NRA for congressional Republicans who want to do something about the state of gun laws in the country… we've not seen a move like this by a company as large or as well-regarded by the audiences -- politicians and otherwise -- who have been adamantly opposed to any sort of gun control legislation in the past.”
Chris Cillizza, CNN

“Years ago Walmart imposed age limits and background checks on gun sales that go beyond federal law. For example, the company requires a ‘green light’ on a background check — meaning that it receives an affirmative go-ahead from the government — but federal law allows retailers to sell the weapon if the background check has not been returned by the government within three business days. Walmart also videotapes the sale at the register, which is also not required by federal law. And Mr. McMillon’s new policy of discouraging customers’ open carrying of weapons in his stores, even when the applicable state law allows for it, is a demonstration for business leaders that common sense can prevail… Which C.E.O. will be next?
Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times

“Coming out with a balanced policy that is not aimed at alienating legal gun owners is a sensible solution… Dealing with polarizing issues is never easy for companies. Firms wanting to serve consumer wants and needs must be careful not to alienate large numbers of consumers. Walmart was in a difficult situation here, but they appear to have balanced it well in a way that will protect and build the brand.”
Charles Taylor, Forbes

From the Right

The right sees the move as largely symbolic, and argues that it will neither reduce gun violence nor placate Walmart’s critics on the left.

The right sees the move as largely symbolic, and argues that it will neither reduce gun violence nor placate Walmart’s critics on the left.

All of this sounds like much ado about nothing. These announcements are about open carry, not concealed carry, which is far more popular… I live in Texas and I can tell you that I have never seen anyone openly carry a gun, other than a police officer or a security guard, in a retail store, including a Kroger grocery store. I’m a Kroger customer and, at least in the area of Houston in which I live, it just doesn’t happen. It sure looks like a whole lot of emotion-based corporate policy to give cover for political posturing.”
Karen Townsend, Hot Air

“Their decision won’t have any impact on gun-related violence and mass shootings. At first glance, Walmart may seem like a supply haven for a would-be shooter. However, its share in gun market sales only totals about 2%. Frankly, Walmart can’t make much of a difference, and this latest action will never satisfy long-time critics… It's hard to believe that Walmart’s opponents, who also take issue with the disparity in pay between its CEO and hourly employees among other things, will have a change of heart and suddenly begin to shop there. Conversely, Americans who frequent the nationwide chain because it allows their family budget to stretch the furthest will most likely not abandon the store entirely just to make a political point…

“Despite the fact that they've sold guns, ammunition, and allowed open carry to varying degrees for years, Walmart did not create the problem of gun violence. Ultimately, they are incapable of fixing it, too.”
Kimberly Ross, Washington Examiner

“Walmart has been in a battle royale with Amazon for retail dominance for years now. Every non-ammunition item I was purchasing from Walmart can be delivered to me by Amazon now, which is what will be happening. Yeah, that's not going to bankrupt Walmart, but I'm certainly not the only one thinking that way today… In one policy shift, Walmart has managed to alienate and demonize Walmart shoppers… The only people who haven't changed their thinking are the very ones Walmart thought it would be placating with their new policies.”
Stephen Kruiser, PJ Media

“Walmart, you’re on treacherous ground. The activists who hate your business aren’t going to waver in their contempt. But some of the people who’ve defended/supported you on other fronts may feel less inclined to do so now.”
Guy Benson, Twitter

“At first glance, Walmart’s decision is mystifying. What’s next? NASCAR going all-Prius to save the planet? Even if you grant the reality that Walmart has grown far beyond its original red-state base, why would the company want to alienate half their customer base? But that’s old America-style thinking. This is new America, and new America is in the grips of profound negative polarization… Americans who participate in politics are motivated more by distaste (more like disgust) for the other side than they are by any particular affection for their own

“In this new America, the calculus has changed. It used to be that if you spoke as a corporation you risked alienating customers. Now, you also risk alienating customers if you don’t speak… Now, in a closely divided nation, whose values will the corporation champion? All other things being equal, the answer is obvious — the company will stand for the values of the people making the decision.”
David French, National Review

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