Walmart Will Continue To Sell Guns Despite Mass Shooting In Its Store
Gun control advocacy groups hope Walmart, one of the nation's top sellers of firearms, will reconsider its role in weapons sales in the aftermath of a shooting rampage that killed at least 22 people at one of its stores.
"Walmart has a history of moving in the right direction, but what happened in El Paso shows they need to go further," Igor Volsky, executive director of Guns Down America, told the Washington Post.
"Walmart has such a big footprint that it could make a big difference if it wants to."
But Walmart has no such plans, company spokesman Randy Hargrove told CBS MoneyWatch.
"There is no change in any company policy," Hargrove said. "No retailer is immune to violence," he added of Saturday's bloodshed, which came days after an employee shot and killed two other workers at a Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi.
"I can't believe I'm sending a note like this twice in one week," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon posted late Saturday on Instagram. "My heart aches for the community in El Paso, especially the associates and customers at store 2201 and the families of the victims of today's tragedy. I'm praying for them, and I hope you will join me."
Walmart employees take computer-based active-shooter training when they first join the company, and repeat the training quarterly, relayed Hargrove. Developed in a partnership with Texas State University, the program instructs employees to avoid confrontation with an assailant, deny entry to a store if possible and, as a final resort, defend themselves.
"In the El Paso store 100 percent of associates had that training," Hargrove said. "We're hearing instances of how our associates helped customers and other associates out of the store or into a safer place in the back of the store. We know our active shooting training works."
But Jesus Villahermosa Jr., who runs security consulting firm Crisis Reality Training, said it is "ludicrous" to think that watching a video can adequately prepare employees for an attack by an armed person. Such training needs to be handled by instructors who can answer questions, he said.
"Retailers seeking to protect themselves should look at steps taken by many of the nation's schools, some which have pre-recorded messages to sound on P.A. systems to alert people of a shooter on the premises," Villahermosa said.
Walmart last month said it would no longer sell guns in New Mexico after a state law took effect requiring background checks for nearly all private gun sales except antiques and between relatives. The law lets federally licensed gun sellers, including Walmart, provide background checks.
The retailer stopped selling handguns in 1993 and assault-style weapons in 2015. Three years later, after a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, it hiked the minimum age for gun and ammo purchases to people 21 and older.
Walmart said in a statement at the time that its "heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way."