As the United States continues to try and grapple with what to do in the wake of mass shootings last weekend that left 31 people dead, Walmart has decided to address not an actual documented spark of either one of the shootings but video games instead. They’re removing violent video game displays from their stores for the indefinite future. CNN notes that some of the live demonstrations contained soundtracks that could be mistaken for actual gunshots, but the move fits clearly into a broader conservative pattern of ignoring the guns in favor of easy scapegoats like video games. To be clear — violent video games are not a uniquely American phenomenon. Mass shootings with assault rifles are.
Explaining the company’s decision, Walmart spokesperson Tara Strong shared:
‘We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment.’
Besides the high-profile incident at an El Paso Walmart that left 22 people dead, two employees were killed in a shooting at another Walmart store in Mississippi not long before that.
In the wake of these incidents, some Walmart employees like dozens at a San Bruno, California corporate office have tried to pressure the company into ceasing gun sales. To that end, they staged a walkout protest, gathering outside their building for some 15 minutes this past weekend in addition to launching an online petition and calling for fellow employees to join them. Instead of using their status as one of the largest gun sellers in the United States and world to enact change, however — they’re just removing video game displays. They’re not even stopping selling the games. Gotta get that blood money!
Besides the video game displays getting taken down, for the indefinite future Walmart is apparently also stopping playing “violent movies and shows on televisions in its electronics section” and “hunting videos in its sporting goods section.” The completely vapid moves come after previous gun sale policy changes apparently brought the chain as far as they would go. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, they stopped selling assault rifles, and following last year’s mass shooting at a Florida high school, they raised the minimum gun purchase age from 18 to 21.
On the national level, there has been little in the way of substantive action so far following the most recent high-profile shootings. Republican public figures like President Donald Trump, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) have all tried to pin blame on violent video games following the incidents, although as CNN notes, “numerous studies have found no link between the games and actual violent behavior.”
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have been discussing bringing the imposition of a universal background check requirement for gun sales forward — but they shouldn’t get some kind of points for this move. The Democrat-majority House already passed a bill implementing such a requirement, and the self-proclaimed “Grim Reaper of socialism” or whatever McConnell has already let it languish this long.
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