The Walton family owns Walmart, and they are the richest family in the U.S. Not only is it the biggest employer in America, but it is also the world’s largest retailer measured by sales with 12,000 stores across the globe. The children of founder Sam Walton were listed at a combined wealth of $163.2 billion, CNN Business reported.
Given the low wage the company has paid its employees, it came as no surprise that Walmart refused to change its gun policies after the mass shooting in their El Paso, Texas store. However, change has always been possible no matter how deeply corporate ideas have been embedded in concrete.
Company spokesperson Randy Hargrove said that for now Walmart’s policies on guns remain in place. He pointed toward Walmart’s active shooter training it has provided for all employees since 2015. He also explained that the employees at the El Paso store where the shooting occurred had also been trained, according to CNN:
‘We continue to be devastated by the loss of lives, and right now our focus is on supporting our associates, our customers and the El Paso community.’
The company has been pressured on social media to stop selling all guns. However, Walmart released a tweet after the mass shooting, saying the Arkansas-based company was “in shock:”
‘(And) praying for the victims, the community and our associates, as well as the first responders.’
The company does allow open carry of firearms in its stores in states where it has been legal. It changed its policy that now required a person to be 21-years-old to purchase guns. A background check has also been mandatory. In addition, Walmart has halted the sale of toys that look like assault rifles.
President of gun violence prevention advocacy group Brady, Kris Brown said:
‘As an employer and a place where a huge population of very diverse people shop, it’s in Walmart’s interest to reiterate what it’s going to do to ensure that it’s employers and its customers are safe.’
Brown continued, asking Walmart to go further:
‘There’s a role to play in leadership and advocacy here. Walmart’s already implemented these policies on its own … They’ve done it because they’re concerned about public safety if they don’t. So why wouldn’t they say from a national perspective, if we want people to feel safe, these steps should be taken more broadly?’
Texas Gun Sense President Ed Scruggs noted that Walmart could have helped educate its customers about gun safety:
‘We have a problem in Texas with children and teenagers accessing firearms that are not properly stored. They could perhaps have free courses in the store on gun safety or promote the use or trigger locks or have big sales on gun safes. To reach out to the community may seem like a small thing but they have an opportunity to reach a lot of people.’
Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) CEO Edward Stack changed his company’s gun policies after the Parkland mass shooting. The business pulled all gun sales from 100 stores. He said it was not about the money:
‘You know everybody talks about thoughts and prayers going out to them. That’s great. That doesn’t really do anything. We felt we needed to take a stand and do this.’
After a mass shooter killed 17 people in Florida, Dick’s “stopped selling all semi-automatic, assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines.” The company also moved the age for purchasing these weapons from 18-years-old to 21 at the remaining stores.
Founder of the gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action Shannon Watts said that public statements like that of Stack’s make a difference:
‘To have Walmart join the coalition of companies working actively on this issue, making it a priority in their foundational platform would send a strong signal. Companies have a role to play. When lawmakers don’t protect their constituents, companies have a responsibility to protect their customers.’
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