Kroger and Walmart, two major retailers in DeSoto County, this week came out with policy announcements regarding guns inside their stores and, for one, the sale of ammunition.
Walmart provided information about a change in ammunition sales and a statement on gun presence inside its stores. Kroger also made a corporate statement about firearms inside its store locations.
The Walmart move comes as a response to the deadly shootings this summer at stores in Southaven and in El Paso, Texas.
The corporation announced that “as of September 2019, we have discontinued the sale of,” and went to list what items stores will no longer sell.
The list includes ammunition for handguns. It also includes “ammunition for short-barrel rifles such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large-capacity clips on military-style weapons ammunition like the .300 Blackout, 7.62x.39 and .224 Valkyrie.”
Walmart also announced it had previously sold handguns at its Alaska stores, but would no longer sell those, as well.
The changes in corporate policy indicated it is requesting that “customers no longer openly carry firearms into Walmart or Sam’s Club locations in states where open carry is permitted – unless they are authorized law enforcement. As of September 2019, we are working to create and display new signage to help communicate this policy.
“We will continue to follow state and local laws regarding concealed carry permit holders,” the new store policy statement continued.
The move was also announced to store associates in a letter from Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and posted on the corporate website.
“This move will inconvenience some of our customers, but I hope they will understand,” McMillon wrote. “We believe these actions will reduce our market share of ammunition from around 20 percent to a range of approximately 6-9 percenr. We believe it will likely drift toward the lower end of that range, over time, given the combination of these changes.”
Some changes may appear gradual and “take several weeks,” McMillon said, due to current inventory commitments.
Two store managers were shot and killed in late July at the Southaven Walmart Supercenter at Southcrest Parkway and Goodman Road. They were identified as Anthony Brown, age 40 of Olive Branch, and Brandon Gales, age 38 of Hernando.
Martez Tarrel Abram is accused of shooting Brown and Gales inside the store early the morning of July 30, and then wounding a Southaven Police officer as they responded to 911 calls from the scene for help. Abram has been fighting extradition back to Mississippi from a Memphis hospital, where he was being treated for a gunshot wound he sustained.
A few days later, 22 people were shot and killed as a result of a mass shooting at a Walmart store parking lot in El Paso, Texas. More than 25 others were wounded by the gunman.
The Walmart announcement was followed shortly after by a statement from Kroger officials, who said the corporation was asking that customers not “open-carry” firearms in their stores where open-carry laws existed, unless they are authorized law enforcement officers and the corporation is asking that laws strengthening background checks be passed.
The Walmart decision did come with a rebuke from the National Rifle Association, which said on its Twitter account that, “Walmart’s action won’t make us any safer,” and called the move “shameful.”
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.