Walmart is responding to a wave of mass shootings in the US by curbing the sale of some kinds of ammunition and banning the open carrying of guns in its shops.
The company said on Wednesday it would no longer stock short-barrel ammunition, such as .223 calibre and 5.56 calibre rounds, after its existing stock is sold.
These kinds of ammunition are commonly used in some hunting rifles. They were also used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons, the company said.
Handgun ammunition sales will also be ditched, as will the sale of handguns themselves (these are sold only in Walmart’s Alaskan outlets).
The company – the US’s largest arms seller – has faced mounting pressure from consumers and lobby groups to change its policies on weapons.
Last month it removed signs advertising violent video games, but did nothing to curb weapon or ammunition sales.
However, Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon said after such “horrific events”, the company “will never be the same”.
Shops will still cater to hunting and sport shooting enthusiasts by selling long barrel deer rifles and shotguns. But the new ban will reduce its share of the ammunition market from 20 per cent to between 6-9 per cent.
“We believe it will likely drift toward the lower end of that range, over time, given the combination of these changes,” Mr McMillon said.
Walmart also threw its weight behind an assault rifle ban and stricter background checks, and called for laws to “remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger”.
“We must also do more, as a country, to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behaviour,” Mr McMillon said.
“Today, I’m sending letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership that call for action on these common-sense measures. As we’ve seen before, these horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades. We should not allow that to happen.”
Open carry crack-down
Since the August shooting in El Paso, Texas, Walmart said it had had “multiple incidents” of people in its shops carrying weapons in ways that frightened staff and customers.
In other cases, stores had mistakenly been evacuated because of customers “lawfully” carrying weapons.
Walmart said these incidents could easily have had “tragic results”, and requested that customers in open carry states (where guns can be publicly visible) did not bring their weapons into its shops.
Twitter users were quick to respond to the news, with some praising the business for making them feel safer, while others accused it of being “no longer pro-American”.
The powerful National Rifle Association said it was “shameful” of Walmart to “succumb to the pressure”.
– with AAP