Some employees of Walmart’s corporate offices have taken their concern over ongoing gun violence to a new level this week. After the large supermarket chain experienced two acts of gun violence within its walls within days, including the high-profile mass shooting in El Paso that left some 22 people dead last weekend, about 40 “white collar” employees of the corporate giant walked out of their San Bruno, California, office this Wednesday, where they gathered for about 15 minutes in honor of those who lost their lives and as part of a wider call for Walmart to stop gun sales. Although the chain has shifted their gun sale policies recently, the stores remain “one of the nation’s largest retailers of firearms and ammunition,” as The Washington Post puts it.
As organizer Kate Kesner put it:
‘There’s an intense irony that Walmart continues to sell guns despite the constant shootings in its stores.’
Days before the El Paso shooting, there was a shooting attack at a Mississippi Walmart that left two employees dead at the hands of a former employee, who has been charged. To address the gun violence epidemic that has quite literally taken up residence within Walmart’s walls, the corporate employees who have raised their voices against their employer’s gun sales policies also want the chain to stop donating to politicians who also receive funding from the National Rifle Association (NRA), which predominantly pours money like the tens of millions they spent on Trump’s behalf into Republican campaigns.
Fellow organizer Thomas Marshall added that Walmart employees “no longer want to be complicit by working for a company that profits off the sale of firearms.”
Those behind the walkout protest have claimed that Walmart took at least some punitive action against them. Marshall says that the company temporarily shut down his and Kesner’s work email and Slack accounts after they sent an email to some 20,000 employees in their division, calling on them to join in their efforts. The Post reports that besides the San Bruno walkout, which included a few employees sharing their perspectives on the situation with the others, employees “at Walmart’s e-commerce offices in Portland… and Brooklyn were also taking action.”
There’s also a Change.Org petition currently live on the web that the San Bruno organizers kickstarted and quickly garnered tens of thousands of signatures.
Walmart rebuffed the walkout protest in a corporate statement. Spokesman Randy Hargrove confidently asserted:
‘There are more effective channels such as email or leadership conversations. The vast majority of our associates who want to share their views are taking advantage of those options.’
As of now, the large chain sells firearms in about half of their stores. They have recently taken some action, like a raise of the minimum age for a gun sale from 18 to 21 following the infamous mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The state of Florida itself also raised the minimum gun purchase age to the same level.
There has been no substantive action to shore up gun safety on the federal level since last weekend, when not just people at an El Paso Walmart lost their lives in a mass shooting but 9 people were killed in a similar incident in Dayton as well.
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