Capitol Alert

Walmart bans handgun, assault rifle ammunition sales at all locations

Walmart on Tuesday announced that the retail giant would immediately begin phasing out the sale of both assault rifle and handgun ammunition.

Its decision follows two recent shootings at Walmart stores, including an El Paso massacre targeting Latino customers that left 22 people dead and one in Mississippi in which a Walmart employee killed two coworkers, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote in a public message.

“We’ve also been listening to a lot of people inside and outside our company as we think about the role we can play in helping to make the country safer. It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,” McMillon said in a statement announcing the ban.

Walmart also plans to end sales of handguns at its Alaska locations, “marking our complete exit from handguns (sales),” according to the statement.

McMillon announced another change intended to make customers feel safer in Walmart stores. The retailer is asking people to refrain from openly carrying firearms inside stores, even in states where it is legal to display guns in public.

That policy follows the arrest of a 20-year-old man who walked in to a Missouri store wearing body armor and carrying loaded guns because he “wanted to know if Walmart honored the Second Amendment.”

The move echoes Walmart’s decision to place restrictions on gun sales in 2017 following the shooting of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Facing criticism from gun control advocates, Walmart that year banned sales of guns and ammunition to people younger than 21.

California’s largest public pension funds, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, were among the Walmart investors that asked Walmart to restrict gun sales after the Florida school shooting.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Twitter called Walmart’s new policies a “good step in the right direction.”

Walmart’s departure from handgun ammunition sales comes as California implements new regulations on ammunition purchases.

Beginning July 1, the Golden State now requires would-be ammunition buyers to submit to an eligibility check, including a $1 spot background check, that includes presentation of a California driver’s license or ID card.

If that card has “Federal Limits Apply” on it, the would-be buyer must also provide further documentation, such as an unexpired passport or a birth certificate copy.

California lawmakers also are considering a bill that, if passed into law, would levy an as-yet unspecified excise tax on all ammunition sales.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.