Following a statement in which Walmart said it would not be making any changes to its policy of selling firearms and ammunition after the shootings in El Paso and Southhaven, the retailer has been facing increased pressure to do exactly that. Many people, including gun safety advocates and everyday shoppers, are very disgruntled with the store’s decision to remove violent video game displays and videos, but not actual guns and ammo.
While the retailer is removing hunting videos and action movie clips from their respective sections as well, this hasn’t stopped the large number of shoppers and members of the American Federation of Teachers from threatening to stop shopping at Walmart, with #BoycottWalmart trending on Twitter back on Friday.
David Hogg, one of the Parkland, Florida students who co-founded March for Our Lives after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, said “Let’s stop going to Walmart until they stop messing guns and ammo.” He also added the phrase “Make money, arm shooters, Walmart.”
Let’s stop going to Walmart until they stop messing guns and ammo.
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) August 9, 2019
Back in 1990, Walmart stopped selling handguns in every state except for Alaska, and it stopped selling assault weapons back in 2015. It restricted the sale of guns and ammo to anyone under the age of 21 after the Parkland shooting last year as well, but following these most recent shootings, Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove has made it clear that “right now, there have been no changes to our firearms policy.”
While that is the current stance Walmart has taken, it could be subject to change. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon made a Facebook post on Wednesday that read, “we are a learning organization, and, as you can imagine, we will work to understand the many important issues that arise from El Paso and Southaven, as well as those that have been raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence.”
Of course, many members of the community aren’t satisfied with something this vague. With the lack of evidence of a causal relationship between violent video games and real life violence, the decision to take down violent game displays seems completely pointless and nonsensical. Many parents have decided to take their back to school shopping needs to Target, where shootings aren’t commonplace, guns aren’t sold, and they don’t let men with body armor and rifles walk into their stores.
Furthermore, the nation’s largest teacher’s union with over 1.7 million members called for Walmart to not only stop selling guns, but even to stop supporting politicians that oppose strict gun control. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten wrote in an Aug. 7 open letter to Walmart’s CEO “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.”
With teachers spending nearly $500 a year on school supplies, this could be a potential impact on Walmart’s bottom line in the future, but considering how large the retailer is, it seems unlikely that it would suffer too much even in the scenario of this theoretical boycott.