Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, issued a statement today saying it will no longer sell firearms or ammunition to anyone under the age of 21.
The announcement came on the same day that major sports retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods also ended the sale of guns to those under 21.
While Dick’s Sporting Goods also announced it would no longer sell AR-15s at its Field and Stream stores and would no longer sell high capacity magazines, those steps were not necessary for Walmart, which stopped selling AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons three years ago and also does not sell high capacity magazines or bump stocks.
The announcements by both companies come in the wake of the February 14 murder of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack, in a statement issued Tuesday, said the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, bought a gun at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store, though it was not an AR-15 and was not used in the school shooting, it still made him reconsider his company’s stance on guns.
Walmart, which offers a much broader range of goods, is taking further steps to address the gun situation. The retailer’s announcement noted that the company would no longer carry items that resemble assault rifles, including airsoft guns and toys. Those items will also not be available through the company’s website.
“Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way.”
The Walmart announcement noted that the company goes well beyond the federal minimum in doing background checks on those who buy firearms. The law permits the sale of a gun if the results of a background check have not been received within a certain time. Walmart policy prohibits the sale of any weapon until the background check has been completed.
Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods have not been the only companies that have taken steps since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killings to distance themselves from the kinds of weapons that have been responsible, not only for those murders but also for mass murders at many venues across the United States.
Companies including Hertz, Delta Airlines, and MetLife Insurance have canceled financial arrangements with the National Rifle Association.
While efforts to address the nation’s gun culture have occurred after every mass shooting in the past two decades, the steps taken by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following the February 14 shooting seem to have had the effect of galvanizing efforts to address the problem.
NBC News noted that the students’ organization, addressing legislators, and putting a different face on the debate appears to have caused more discussion than after previous shootings and at this point, appear to be yielding results.