Exclusive: Walmart Partially Clarifies Statement on Ending Certain Ammunition Sales

Company will only sell ammunition for guns it also sells

WalMart / Getty Images

Walmart clarified its new policy on ammunition sales a day after its CEO announced the retailer would stop selling certain ammunition but didn't specify exactly which ammunition.

The new policy was announced in response to the horrific attack on one of Walmart's El Paso stores. Walmart senior director of communications Delia Garcia described the event as the "bottom line," and said Walmart would only sell ammunition capable of being used in the remaining firearms they sell.

"Our assortment will remain focused on the needs of hunting and sport shooting enthusiasts," Garcia told the Washington Free Beacon. "It will include rifles used for deer hunting and shotguns, much of the ammunition they require, as well as hunting and sporting accessories and apparel. In other words, if we sell the firearm, we will sell the ammunition for it unless that ammunition, such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large-capacity magazines on military-style weapons, and also the .300 Blackout, 7.62×39 and .224 Valkyrie which can also be used in military-style rifles."

Garcia's statement came in response to questions about yesterday's confused press release from Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. In the release, McMillon said the chain would no longer sell "short-barrel rifle ammunition" but would continue to sell ammunition for "long barrel deer rifles and shotguns," despite the fact that barrel length has no bearing on what kind of ammunition a rifle uses. McMillon further said the company wouldn't sell .223 and 5.56 caliber ammunition because it could "be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons," despite the fact that every caliber ammunition can be loaded into magazines of all different sizes.

McMillon did not explain what Walmart considers a "large capacity clip" or "military-style weapons." Garcia did not answer follow up questions about how Walmart defines those terms and whether it had decided to stop selling 12-gauge shotgun ammunition or larger caliber ammunition like 7.62x51mm because of their use by the military.

When asked why the retailer had decided to stop selling handgun ammunition, Garcia said it was connected to the company's decision to end handgun sales in Alaska—the only state where they had sold them.

"We don't sell handguns and we will no longer sell ammunition for them," she said.

Despite the new policy explicitly connecting the ammunition sold by Walmart with the firearms it continues to sell, Walmart did say it would continue to sell ammunition in stores that don't sell firearms. The company was not willing to release a specific list of the calibers it would continue to sell or a specific list of firearms it would sell, other than to say it was focused on "hunting and sport shooting." Garcia did not know if popular small calibers like .22lr would continue to be sold or not.

In addition to stopping some of their ammunition sales, Walmart asked customers not to openly carry firearms inside of its stores unless they are law enforcement officers. The company said it was not changing its policy allowing legal concealed carry, though. McMillon said he sent a letter to the White House and congressional leaders urging new gun control legislation.

"We encourage our nation's leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger," he wrote in his press release. "We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness."

After the assault weapons ban lapsed in 2004, the Department of Justice published a study on the law's effectiveness and found the law had little to no effect on gun crime during the decade it was in effect.

"We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence," the report said. "And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence, based on indicators like the percentage of gun crimes resulting in death or the share of gunfire incidents resulting in injury, as we might have expected had the ban reduced crimes with both AWs and LCMs."

The paper further concluded an assault weapons ban has a low ceiling for potential impact given how often those firearms are used in a crime.

"The ban's impact on gun violence is likely to be small at best, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement," the report said. "AWs were used in no more than 8% of gun crimes even before the ban."

Gun rights supporters criticized Walmart's new policies with the National Rifle Association, saying Walmart caved to "anti-gun elites" and predicting gun owners would shop elsewhere.

"The strongest defense of freedom has always been our free-market economy," the gun rights group said in a statement. "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. Our leaders must be willing to approach the problems of crime, violence and mental health with sincerity and honesty."

Walmart said it did not have a response to the NRA's statement.

Gun control advocates, however, cheered Walmart's policy changes.
"Open carry is dangerous, and we're grateful Walmart—one of the largest companies in America—agrees," Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said in a statement.