Wal-Mart resists pressure on gun sales

The retailer has withstood similar criticism for years. Many locations have sold out of semi-automatic rifles since last week's Connecticut school shooting.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 20, 2012 11:09AM
Wal-Mart store in Secaucus, New Jersey / Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesWal-Mart (WMT), the world's largest retailer, is resisting pressure to curtail sales of semi-automatic weapons similar to the ones used in last week's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

Freedom Group, the corporate owner of Bushmaster, the maker of the weapon used by Sandy Hook Elementary killer Adam Lanza, gets about 13% of its sales from Wal-Mart, which is probably the one of the biggest sellers of firearms and ammunition in the country.

Many Wal-Mart locations have sold out of semi-automatic rifles since the school shooting, Bloomberg reports. The company's website says several guns are out of stock in five states. Prices for gun magazines were reportedly surging on eBay (EBAY), according to the news service.

Wal-Mart sells modern sporting rifles, the term the industry uses to describe weapons similar to the M-16 used by the military, in about 1,200 locations and does not sell high-capacity magazines for these weapons, according to Bloomberg. The news service quotes spokesman David Tovar as saying, "We remain dedicated to the safe and responsible sale of firearms in areas of the country where they are sold."

Sales of guns and ammunition have surged in the days after the Dec. 14 incident as buyers worried about a crackdown by President Barack Obama, who on Wednesday asked Vice President Joe Biden to lead a task force on gun violence that will issue recommendations by next month. It seems likely that a new assault weapons ban will head to a vote in the Congress in the coming months that the political powerful gun lobby will have difficulty stopping.

Gun control advocates can't overplay their hand. Attacking Wal-Mart too aggressively for selling guns to people legally able to buy them could turn the retailer into a martyr for the Second Amendment. Customers will rally around the retailer, like people did when Chick-fil-A was attacked for its views on gay rights, and buy even more firearms and ammunition. Gun critics should ask themselves whether they prefer that people buy weapons through a multinational company which is accountable for its actions or a gun show dealer where restrictions are not as stringent.

Wal-Mart has to be careful as well. Perhaps the company believes that pressure to curtail gun sales, which includes an online petition, will die down as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary fades from people's memories. That would be a mistake.  The slaughter of 20 children and six educators is forever etched in the nation's consciousness. 

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks.  Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Tags: Guns
Jan 11, 2013 1:45AM
There are no gun show dealers that are unaccountable.  All DEALERS must hold a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and complete an instant criminal background check for every sale.  A private individual may sell a firearm to another private individual at any time and in any place (in most jurisdictions) without a background check. A gun show is just a convenient place for willing buyers to find willing sellers.  And a miniscule amount of guns used in crime are acquired in this manner.

I wish blowhard opinion writers would bother to understand firearms and firearms transactions before writing opinion pieces on them.

Dec 29, 2012 2:59AM
How are they going to control guns? That is simple, you hold it in your hand and pull the trigger. The guns aren`t the problem. As soon as the government realizes that they are going to do something radical. Like maybe turn all schools into military schools and make all adults learn to shot. and then we would be a total unfree country. Oops, should of kept my mouth shut, I just gave them an idea.
Dec 22, 2012 1:20PM
the media is crooked.....the government that the media lies for is crooked....and a good majority of the citizens it lies to are just, plain and simply, uneducated on the constitution and the rights it protects and the federal government is constantly trying to destroy. i think we should go back to the articles of confederation so that the federal government barely even has the power to function let alone any power to legislate away my rights.
Dec 22, 2012 3:09AM
sorry my comment sounded dumb but I had a short stay in the hospital and I did not feel like even watching T.V. I have a couple questions dont some of you people know what an assault rifle is? They are fully automatic not simi. The kid used hand guns not a rifle. Why were these guns not locked up? In 1998 my wifes grandson was murdered with a sword that was hanging on the wall the reason the baby sitter who did this did not use a gun was THEY WERE ALL LOCKED UP!!!!!! Gun control starts at home wake up and use the brain the good lord gave you for something other than a hat rack. I retired from law enforcement with 23 years of service so I do know a little about guns. Yes I had to shoot a man and I am not proud of it either.
Dec 21, 2012 11:39PM
Way to go Wal-Mart! I commend Wal-Mart for sticking to their guns ( pun intended) and for realizing that honest law abiding citizens legally have a right to buy any style sports rifle (military-style or stock rifle) they want. Most gun owners like the style and feel of military-styled sports weapons for both the look and feel of the weapon. I am a proud gun owner, and I will support Wal-Mart any way I can from now on. The story above reeks with gun control media bias and half truths - why not tell the whole truth. Journalists were supposed to protect the Constitution and the citizens rights. Now they don't even ask the right questions. The 2nd Amendment was written the way it was for a good reason. Not all fellow Democrats' are gun control advocates. Why? because most Democrats' know the "NON-MILITARY" Bushmaster AR-15 was not used in the murders, and the weapon was found locked in the truck of the car. -- I repeat for all the news media to get their story straight -- It was NOT, according to police investigators, used in the shootings of the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newton, Connecticut. So, stop the misinformation campaign. Please.
Dec 21, 2012 3:01PM
msn is an oppressive host in my opinion.
Dec 21, 2012 1:44PM

there was a guy that responded to one of my posts i put on here (among many that are no longer on here) and stated that this isn't the 1700s and the government is not oppressive....well.....like i said....all of my other posts were removed and i believe that's infringing on my 1st amendment right to free speech.  i believe this is grounds for filing charges against whoever is monitoring this topic. unless of course you would like to put my other posts back up in a very timely fashion.


if you don't use your rights....you lose your rights!!!!!!!

Dec 21, 2012 1:10PM

WHAT THE.....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The NRA answer to guns in society is to put an armed guard in every school? Public schools? So let me see if I've got this straight. The answer to right wing anti big government wacko paranoia.. is to arm big brother and put him in every school?????????????????


Wayne LaPierre. The face of pure evil.


When do you ever finally call it quits, Wayne? haven't you done Satan proud a long time ago?


Dec 21, 2012 11:50AM

If you don't understand the reasons behind the second amendment that is your own problem.  If you would like to voluntarily concede your rights you are more than welcome to go ahead and do so, however you do not have the right to force me to relinquish my right to bear arms.  Have you seen the movie idiocracy?  Every day that passes convinces me that it was a documentary that was made before its time.

Dec 21, 2012 11:01AM
Wal mart has decent prices for practice ammo. I've NEVER shopped a WalMart for a firearm. I prefer to get my hunting weapons at garage sales. My competition rifles/pistols/revolvers are custom made and must be ordered.
Dec 20, 2012 11:06PM
I still have not been told where the kid got the guns and who the gun owner was. Where the guns were and if they were locked up or sitting out where he could get his hands on them. I heard he tried to buy one but was refused. I guess I missed out on a lot of this.
Dec 20, 2012 9:41PM
If there were guns in the cockpits of the airliners on 9-11, 3000 souls may have got a chance to keep living the dream. Instead we were defeated by some lowly box cutters. Put Guns in the schools under the control of trained administrators and ex- military teachers and our children will get the protection they deserve. Living Defenseless is a great way to get yourself killed.
Dec 20, 2012 7:40PM

On I remember you people - the same under-educated small minded bunch that still  think the President is a foreigner, and that gays and lesbians belong in therapy - or jail. Abortion? It's a baby's life, not a choice with you folks - though you somehow forget that when the talk turns to taking away your precious machine guns. What would Jesus do?


As a straight Republican I am ashamed to be associated with you.   

Dec 20, 2012 7:24PM
Rally around such a disgraceful company? That would really be the epitome of American sensibility. This is a company who treats their workers horribly, they hide behind the attacks on big business yet is now forcing their workers to go to Medicaid for health care, they wiped under the rug a big bribery scandal in Mexico (hope the Feds nails them for violating the corrupt practices act), when it came to improve worker safety in Bangladesh they vetoed it (too expensive) and 130 workers died 2 weeks ago in a fire, and now the rush to sell their inventory of assault rifles. All this company is a profiit making company AT ANY COST. Thank goodness I would never step into this store. Too bad that people are in such bad straits that they have no choice.
Dec 20, 2012 7:24PM
I wonder if the person who wrote the second amendment had in mind machine guns and assault riffles with mass murdering capacity at the time he thought of it. 
I believe that beyond having rights and freedom, there is having a soul and a respect for human decency. 
11 bullets in a 6 year-old child (or is it 20 children?????? What a heavy price to pay for freedom...
A soulless country is worst that a country without a right.
There are a lot of Adam Lanza out there or just a wacko in for revenge, hate, jealousy, passion and disapointment about something/someone. 
With a gun, they can do we now know what.
Dec 20, 2012 7:14PM
Hi, I can see some one having a 12 gauge for hunting, why would you need a hand gun or a automatic rifle, and I am a registered  Democrat !
Dec 20, 2012 6:41PM

Again guns are not the problem...people are the problem. Kids grow up with video games of war, and mass destruction. Violence is everywhere on tv and movie rentals. Humans subjected to this can actually act out and portray the fantasy world they have been playing and watching.

Dec 20, 2012 6:07PM
For those of you who don't feel safe in your own country, there are plenty of other countries, 1 to the north, you can move to and they provide free health care too. Just a thought. don't forget to pay the 400 for expedited passport service and a 1 way ticket.
Dec 20, 2012 5:45PM

These Kids, People Shooting others like this have::  NO Religion, No Morals. Obviously Neither do the Parents, to have taught them Right from Wrong.

 If They Did Guns Would Not Be a Issue..

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