Walmart discontinuing ammunition sales for assault-style rifles

After repeated calls for change in its gun sales policy, Walmart is addressing the complaints and concerns of some by announcing it will no longer sell ammunition for assault-style rifles.

"As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same," Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon said in an email to employees Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. "Our remaining assortment will be even more focused on the needs of hunting and sport-shooting enthusiasts."

Once it runs out of its inventory, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer said it will stop selling short-barrel and handgun ammunition. In Alaska, it will discontinue handgun sales in the state's nine locations.

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The inventory change means Walmart will only focus on hunting rifles and related ammunition.

McMillon referenced two mass shootings that occurred at U.S. Walmart locations. On July 20, a disgruntled former Walmart employee opened fire in at a Southaven, Mississippi, retail location, killing two employees. Later that week, on Aug. 3, a gunman walked into an El Paso, Texas, Walmart with an AK-style semi-automatic rifle and killed 22 people.

In the wake of those shootings, Walmart was criticized for not pulling weapons from stores and instead pulling violent video game displays.

"I'm a gun owner myself," McMillon said on a conference call, WSJ reported. "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 status quo is unacceptable."

McMillon said signage will be posted at Walmart locations to communicate to Walmart and Sam’s Club customers that they can no longer openly carry firearms at stores in "open carry" states unless authorized law enforcement officers are present.

"We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results," McMillon told employees, according to CNBC. "We hope that everyone will understand the circumstances that led to this new policy and will respect the concerns of their fellow shoppers and our associates."

Walmart, which is estimated to have about a 20% share of the market for ammunition, said its market share of ammunition will drop to a range of 6% to 9% with the new changes.

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