Published: Sat, August 10, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Walmart CEO speaks out on recent shootings

Walmart CEO speaks out on recent shootings

A petition started by a junior Walmart Inc. worker in California to protest the retailer's sale of firearms, following two mass shootings over the weekend left 31 people dead in Texas and OH, has gathered more than 45,000 signatures. This prompted groups to call for a boycott to buy from Walmart.

But any change to its gun policies risks alienating Walmart's core customers, who often live in more conservative-leaning rural and suburban communities.

The shooting in El Paso came days after a Walmart employee shot and killed two other workers in Southaven, Miss., and a day before a gunman killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio.

Some Walmart workers are demanding that the retail giant stop selling firearms after shootings at two of the company's stores left 24 people dead.

Walmart instructed US stores to remove signage and video displays that show violent imagery or "aggressive behavior", including ensuring no violent movies are playing on in-store TVs and removing all signs and demos of combat and third-person shooter games. Walmart did not immediately return CNN's request for comment.

The company has no plans to stop selling guns or ammunition, spokesman Randy Hargrove said in an interview on Sunday, a day after the El Paso shooting. Among his suggestions are pressuring gun manufactures to "begin incorporating fingerprint technology to unlock guns", make banks and credit card systems to track gun sales and install more safeguards and to pressure Apple to ban the use of Apple Pay from in-store purchases of guns and ammunition (Apple has already banned it from online purchases). The company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 and incorporated on October 31, 1969.

Walmart is facing pressure to stop selling guns entirely from gun control advocates even from within the company.

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Marshall said he sent the message on an internal Slack messaging channel and to an email chain that included about 20,000 people.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, in an August 7 memo to employees, wrote in part, "We will be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and we will act in a way that reflects the best values and ideals of our company".

"We have worked very hard to be a responsible firearms retailer.Walmart does more in the area of background checks than what the federal law requires", Hargrove added. The retailer does not sell all types of weapons: It stopped selling assault style rifles in 2015. Earlier in the week, a Florida man was accused of calling a Walmart store and threatening to "shoot up" the building.

The decision was made out of respect for the victims and all those impacted in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, the source said.

But researchers say there's no scientific research that supports a link between video games and real-world violence.

"If Walmart continues to provide funding to lawmakers who are standing in the way of gun reform, teachers and students should reconsider doing their back-to-school shopping at your stores", the union's president, Randi Weingarten, said in a letter addressed to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.

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