Deadly Force Now In Aisle 9: Walmart Returning Guns To Its Shelves

Jan pointing at shotgun in Walmart

It's possible to subsist almost entirely on items found in Walmart (you can even buy tents if you don't have a home), but there's one product found in a quarter of all American households that most Walmarts don't stock: guns. Until now. Walmart is returning the gun counter to a big chunk of its stores. Why does the same store that sells baby clothes and books like Organic Gardening for the 21st Century think its customers will want rifles, shotguns, and ammunition? Because Americans love guns. And Walmart thinks they can sell them to us.

Once upon a time, the majority of Walmart stores carried guns; it was a classic point in the litany of liberal complaints against the company. But in 2006, Walmart pulled firearms from all but a third of its stores as the result of "diminished customer relevancy and demand" in certain locations, according to former Walmart spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart.

Walmart spokesman Lorenzo Lopez tells us that the firearms were removed from store shelves for a variety of reasons, but that he doesn't "necessarily have insight into why. We've obviously realized over time that the appeal may be a little bit broader than what we thought." While the move probably wasn't related to the company's push to focus on energy conservation and generally confusing its old critics, it certainly helped add to Walmart's growing acceptance among the coastal set.

But now, apparently, the retailer has realized the folly of that move--people want guns all over the place. Walmart announced this week that it is bringing firearms back to hundreds of stores, meaning almost half of the retailer's 3,600 locations will sell shotguns and rifles. These will be both in rural stores, but also in slightly more urban locations like Albuquerque, N.M., and Jacksonville, Fla., according to The Wall Street Journal.

The move is part of Walmart's attempt to sell more in the so-called "heritage categories"--things like bolts of sewing fabric, fishing rods, and all those other down-home-on-the-farm products beloved by our forebears, who didn't have the option of shopping at retail superstores. Their inclusion on Walmart's shelves make the retailer more of a one-stop shop than it already is, says Lopez. "Part of the reason why we're adding back to some locations is because we're working to deliver the broadest and most relevant assortment possible at the lowest price to our customers," he says. "We know they've depended on Walmart for many years for hunting, fishing, and sporting goods of all kinds."

The retailer is already the biggest firearm and ammunition vendor in the country. Having more gun-stocked Walmarts probably won't influence local violence, though it may put some mom and pop gun stores out of business (that liberal complaint is still valid!). And hey, there's an upside: In the event that we descend into some sort of survivalist fever dream, you'll know exactly where to find a shotgun.

[Photo by joshzam | homepage feature image by Chris Devers]

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

Read More: Walmart Could Easily Pay Its Workers $12 An Hour

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12 Comments

  • The_INFIDEL_protecting_USA

    “At first glance, it may seem odd or even perverse to suggest that statutory controls on the private ownership of firearms are irrelevant to the problem of armed crime: yet that is precisely what the evidence shows. Armed crime and violent crime generally are products of ethnic and social factors unrelated to the availability of a particular type of weapon. The number of firearms required to satisfy the crime market is minute, and these are supplied no matter what controls are instituted. Controls have had serious effect on legitimate users of firearms, but there is no case, either in the history of this country (Britain) or in the experience of other countries in which controls can be shown to have restricted the flow of weapons to criminals, or in any way reduce crime.”
    -Chief Inspector Colins Greenwood, West Yorkshire Constabulary, Police Review, Britain after six months of study of firearms control systems at Cambridge University

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  • ehjones1

    "Most locally owned and operated businesses benefit from Walmart moving into the community"

    That's not exactly true - while Walmart doesn't hurt, they don't help either. (according to a paper by Russell Sobel, professor of economics at West Virginia University)

    "The ones that fail are the ones that refuse to differentiate themselves from wal mart's product and service offering"

    That is at best a convenient, and at worst a specious argument. With the plethora of product lines and services that now include pharmacy, pet products, electronics, clothing and food, you can't honestly believe that it easy to differentiate yourself. Possible? certainly - a simple proposition? hardly.

    As for the guns, while I find it fascinating that Walmart stopped selling guns in 2006 and has now decided to reverse that decision, and think that the obsession with guns in America is perplexing. The guns don't bother me - it's the untrained owners that scare the hell out of me.

    ...and it would be great if we could stop using the 'liberal' 'conservative' paintbrush...We are all Americans...and having different opinions, and being able to express them and learn from one another, is what makes this country great.

  • Andrew Krause

    The breadth of Wal-Mart's offering doesn't impact the ability of a competing firm to differentiate itself. Sticking to the subject, Wal-Mart is going to offer base model sporting arms. You'll be lucky if the guy at the counter knows the difference between a bolt-action 7mm and a black powder breech loader. Go up the street to an independent shop, and you'll find a higher level of expertise and a broader offering (and often free firearms safety classes for customers). That's differentiation, and it applies to the pharmacist, pet store, tire dealer, etc.

    I referenced a paper by MS State Uni on the subject below to compare to Sobel. Also, there are plenty of academic studies that show Wal-Mart and other large retailers improve overall economic welfare when they come into a community by both increasing wages and lowering prices.

    As for paintbrushes - there are conservatives, and there are liberals. Pretending these groups don't exist isn't going to solve the problem of these groups trying to impose their worldview on others. You should consider it your responsibility to challenge bias and make people defend their otherwise unqualified opinions, not tell people to link hands and sing kumbaya.

  • AbshireJW

    I find it a bit ironic at how they stopped selling them because there was not a demand, and now that there is an increased demand they are starting to sell them and you find issue with that. I could understand your concern that it might run mom and pop gun dealers out of the business but I have been hunting, shooting, and carrying weapons for personal protection (on and off the job) for a long time and I have never bought a weapon from Wal-Mart...mostly because the items they stock do not cater to me and they are over priced for what they are. I have bought ammo from them but its always cheaper to buy ammo online, and in bulk..and Wal-Mart has a hard time keeping ammo in stock and for a price that is reasonable...mostly because the liberals have done everything in their power to jack up the cost of ammo...since they cannot take out 2nd Amendment away they are going to try and take the ammo instead. I find the title to this article to be misleading, considering Deadly Force is authorized to citizens who feel their life or the lives of others are in immediate grave danger...and you can carry concealed in Wal-Mart...the fact they have fire arms for sale really makes no sense why you make it seem like they are selling "deadly force". While Wal-Mart is an evil corproration that drives out small businesses and is doing a good part to destroy the economy...it will not hurt retail gun sales for small gun shops in the slightest. I have lived in small towns most of my life, and a few cities...I have never been in a Wal-Mart that has not sold weapons, not ever...and I have never been in a town or city that did not have at least one dealer for weapons...in my town now I have 3 and a Wal-Mart...and they are all doing fine and making money....so the fear of them shutting down small businesses may seem valid in other cases in the case of fire arms it is not...

  • Ariel Schwartz

    There is a quote in the article from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

  • Andy

    But you failed to mention that you still can't buy guns there on Christmas and New Years! Strikes me as funny for some reason.

  • Andrew Krause

    "Having more gun-stocked Walmarts probably won't influence local violence"

    Liberal Fallacy - there is no correlation between gun ownership and violence.

    "though it may put some mom and pop gun stores out of business."

    Another Liberal Fallacy - most locally owned and operated business benefit from wal mart moving into the community. The ones that fail are the ones that refuse to differentiate themselves from wal mart's product and service offering - something which a writer for Fast Company ought to understand. here in the real world, most firearms dealers offer brands and choices well outside of wal marts ability to support. Wal Mart is good for cheap ammo and generic sporting arms - nothing more.

    "Deadly force"

    Yes, because it's impossible to apply deadly force with anything else wal mart sells - kitchen knives, hammers, axes...

  • Andrew Krause

    You're going to cite an industry trade group that represents independent gun dealers? I'm stunned by that argument. Try an actual academic article by real economists, like the MS State University Study that found... basically what I just said. http://bit.ly/mTVMP6 You could also take a trip to a gun shop near a wal-mart. You'll find that they sell a larger variety of ammo and sporting arms.

    BTW, I wasn't in agreement with your first point. I was pointing out the fallacy that there is any correlation between gun ownership and violence, which is implied in your use of the word "probably".

  • AbshireJW

    Never Mind...I see what you said however I see no documentation to support it...no sources cited. Not to mention the fact that they are just dead wrong.

  • AbshireJW

    The link you supplied is to LA times Article...and does not support what you are saying according to the National Shooting Sports Foundational...