A crashed U.S. Postal Service vehicle and Odessa Police vehicle are seen late Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019 at a Cinergy movie theatre in Odessa, Texas. (Ryan Michalesko/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)

Walmart to ban shoppers from openly carrying guns in stores

Customers with a concealed carry permit are still welcome

Walmart will no longer welcome customers openly carrying in their stores nationwide and will end the sale of ammunition for handguns and some types of rifles.

CEO Doug McMillion announced the decision in a memo to employees Tuesday, saying it was impacted by recent shootings in Walmart stores.

“A month ago, in El Paso, Texas, a gunman with an assault-style rifle launched a hate-filled attack in our store, shooting 48 people resulting in the loss of 22 innocent lives,” McMillion wrote. “Just a few days prior, two of our associates were killed by another associate in our store in Southaven, Mississippi. And hours after the shooting in El Paso, our country experienced another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. This weekend brought tragedy to Midland and Odessa, Texas.”

In days following the El Paso mass shooting, McMillion visited the store and told employees they would announce “next steps” for the company.

“In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again,” McMillon wrote. “The status quo is unacceptable.”

Such steps include asking customers to no longer openly carry firearms in Walmart or Sam’s Clubs stores in states where open carry is permitted, excluding law enforcement officers.

“We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results,” McMillion said, who said he is a gun owner himself.

Customers with a concealed carry permit are still welcome, he said.

After current inventory is sold, the company will discontinue sales of handgun ammunition and short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber.

The move will reduce the nation’s largest retailer from around 20% of the market share to between 6% to 9%, according to internal estimates.

Of the more than 4,000 Walmart stores in the U.S., about half sell firearms.

Walmart previously stopped selling handguns and military-style rifles, including the AR-15.

There are 49 Walmart stores in Massachusetts, including 27 Supercenters.

In Massachusetts, a license to carry is required to purchase and possess handguns, rifles, shotguns and ammunition. A resident may carry a concealed handgun — both loaded and unloaded — only with a license to carry.

A license to carry is issued by local police departments across Massachusetts to residents 21 years or older who successfully complete an application and a safety course.

Firearm identification cards permits the purchase and possession of non-large-capacity rifles, shotguns and ammunition to residents 18 years or older, or 14-17 years old with parental consent.

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