Groups push for Walmart to cease gun sales
CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 2/13/2013, 1:09 p.m.
As the conversation about gun control in America continues, Walmart is now the target of criticism for selling assault weapons. The retail giant is being urged to cease selling the weapons as many in the nation voice their outrage over the use of assault rifles by civilians.
The push is being led by progressive group SumOfUs, which is calling for action in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children were shot and killed in December. The action comes after a rally and the delivery of over 300,000 signatures to a Walmart store in Danbury, Conn., last Tuesday in which gun violence survivors were joined by progressive organizations and consumer watchdogs to demand the retailer take action.
Since the petition delivery on Tuesday, more then 10,000 people have taken to Walmart's Facebook page to register their concerns and urge Walmart executives to honor their 2004 pledge and stop selling assault weapons and ammunition.
Organizers from SumOfUs, MomsRising and the Courage Campaign report that more than 2,500 Walmart customers have placed calls to Walmart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., urging the company to stop selling assault weapons in all of their stores. The groups intend to make more calls.
"The AR-15 assault rifle has no place in our communities--it's being sold in over 1,700 Walmart stores around the country," said Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive director for SumOfUs. "Walmart removed the gun from its website, but not its actual stores, and it's still stocking other semi-automatic rifles. Will we need to wait until the next mass shooting for Walmart to take those guns off the shelves?"
Walmart's firearms sales grew by 76 percent in 2011, making it the largest gun dealer in the country, and in an October meeting, an executive vice president told shareholders that rising arms sales were a key component of the company's marketing strategy.
Officials from Walmart have responded to the issue by saying that the company has been very purposeful about striking the right balance between serving our customers "who are hunters and sportsmen" and making sure that firearms are sold responsibly.
Walmart does not sell handguns or high-capacity magazines in the United States, according to reported statements. Less than one-third of its stores sell sporting rifles in areas of the country where there are high numbers of hunters.
"We have had ongoing conversations with the administration, Congress, Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg's office, sportsmen groups, suppliers and others to listen and share our thoughts and experiences," said David Tovar, vice president of corporate communications for Walmart. "Over the years, we have been very purposeful about striking the right balance between serving hunters and sportsmen and ensuring that we sell firearms responsibly. In fact, we became a charter member of Mayor Bloomberg's coalition against illegal guns and adopted the 10-point code established by the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership that goes beyond what the law requires."