Walmart announced Tuesday that it will no longer sell handgun and short-barrel rifle ammunition.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant will also stop selling handguns in Alaska, the last state where it still sold them.
The news comes after two deadly shootings at Walmart stores within days of each other. Two people were killed at the Southaven, Mississippi, location on July 30, and 22 were killed in El Paso, Texas, on August 3.
Walmart now sells about 20% of the ammunition purchased in the U.S., but the policy change is expected to cut that to six to nine percent, CEO Doug McMillon said in an e-mail to Walmart employees. He explained that the retailer will focus on “the needs of hunting and sport shooting enthusiasts,” such as long-barrel deer rifles and shotguns, the necessary ammo and hunting accessories and clothes.
“As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” McMillon wrote.
In addition to the ammo policy change, the retail giant is asking customers in open-carry states to no longer openly carry their weapons in Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, unless they’re law enforcement officers.
After the company sells its current inventory, it will stop selling handgun ammo and ammunition like .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber, which are for hunting rifles, but can also be used in large-capacity clips on military-style weapons, said McMillon, himself a professed gun owner, who pointed out that the chain’s founder, Sam Walton, hunted quail.
“In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again,” the CEO wrote. “The status quo is unacceptable.”
The National Rifle Association, the largest progun group in the U.S., released a strongly worded statement, opposing the decision.
"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."
— NRA (@NRA) September 3, 2019
This story has been updated.