Walmart is the single largest retailer of firearms in the country. While the selection of guns at the retail giant tends to be a little slim–they don’t sell handguns or modern sporting rifles, after all–they still sell firearms from time to time. Enough so that the company has said it has no plans to stop selling firearms despite the El Paso shooting, which took place in a Walmart.
A lot of people don’t seem to respect Walmart’s decision, though.
Instead, they want to pressure the company into halting all sales of guns and ammunition in the wake of the deadly shooting. To do that, they’re planning a set of rallies to try and force Walmart’s hand this weekend.
Calls for Walmart to stop selling firearms grew louder as a coalition of unions and organizations said they would stage rallies nationwide this weekend to pressure the country’s largest retailer to use its influence to push gun reform.
Guns Down America says that Color of Change, MoveOn, and the American Federation of Teachers are among the organizations joining it at Walmart stores across the U.S. to not only call on the company to stop selling guns, but demand that it support gun buybacks and use its clout to push for a ban on military style weapons.
The coalition also wants its campaign to go viral, launching the #Walmartmustact challenge. Visitors to Walmartmustact.org can print out a letter asking the retailer to stop supporting NRA backed politicians along with the other demands. Then they’re being asked to take a picture, tag their friends, and deliver the letters to a Walmart store manager.
“We really believe that given its enormous size, Walmart will be able to shake up this conversation … both in Congress, but also with the gun industry and gun manufacturers,” says Igor Volsky, founder and executive director of the group Guns Down America. “They need to begin using those relationships, using their leverage, using their clout, to do everything they can to keep their customers safe. To keep their employees safe … I think that’s their responsibility.”
Nevermind that Walmart’s CEO has already expressed his personal openness for gun control. That’s not enough for them.
What they overestimate, however, is Walmart’s importance to the gun community and the conversation surrounding firearms. While Walmart is a large company and can certainly provide some support to gun control activists, they’re not all-powerful. Should the retail giant capitulate to their demands, it’s unlikely to have the effect they’re hoping for.
For one, not all that many people rely on Walmart as their primary gun store. They’ll swing in there to buy a rifle at a good price or some inexpensive ammo, but that’s not their gun store. Especially since if your Walmart is like mine, there’s never anyone there who can sell you a gun anyway.
It should also be noted that what these people are upset about isn’t what Walmart sells, but that they’re not involved in the political discussion. This is dangerous as hell. If they’re successful, other companies may find themselves being pushed to pick sides in a contentious debate like the one surrounding gun control.
Walmart should remain strong on this, where even if they decided to stop selling guns, it’s not their place to take a side on political issues. If they do on this one, what else will they be forced to take a side on?
Besides, look what happened to Dick’s Sporting Goods when they went full-on anti-gun.