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
Dec 20, 2012 2:56PM

"Bushmaster, the maker of the weapon used by Sandy Hook Elementary killer Adam Lanza "       

Allegedly, this type of AR was not used during the massacre but 2 semi-auto pistols..get you story straight Berr.

Dec 20, 2012 2:55PM
Why it doesn't surprise me... All them ignorant rednecks stocking up ...
Dec 20, 2012 2:46PM
Foxy You Sound Black. I AM NOT A REDNECK and I by guns to protect me and the Queen.
Oh yes I was born in a housing project in Atlanta and now I live on top of the Mountain. The games Our kids play now and Pills they take is part of the problem.
Dec 20, 2012 2:45PM

I will say upfront I am a proud gun owner.  I do not believe an assault weapons ban will decrease mass shootings (statistics back my theory).  I have never seen the movie "Hunger Games" or read any of the books.  But I recently had a friend of mine who did watch the movie and said it was very graphically violent and had scenes of children killing other children in very gruesome ways.


So I am wondering where is the uproar over this type of movie?  Where are the parents against gun violence protesting the movie studio and all it's advertisers?  Seems kind of hypocritical to me.  I don't care that they made the movie.  I made a personal decision not to go see it,  now especially knowing it is children killing other children. 


I made a personal decision.  The same should be asked of the people against gun violence.  Nobody is forcing you to buy or own a gun.  It is your second amendment right.

Dec 20, 2012 2:42PM
And who's surprised?  Everyone who bought one did so because they are afraid Obama and Biden will take them off the market. 
Dec 20, 2012 2:38PM






Dec 20, 2012 2:37PM
Why do you need a car that will do 130? 
Dec 20, 2012 2:36PM
So everyone who is afraid to fail a background test rushed to buy a gun - with other words, more nuts own guns.
Dec 20, 2012 2:26PM

Billionaires are buying land and redneck nascar stupid idiots are buying guns.Dick

Cheney wants to be your hunting buddy.

Dec 20, 2012 2:02PM
Any belief taken to an extreme becomes illogical. 

AR-15 is an example of such extreme.
Dec 20, 2012 1:58PM
Billy really? really?

I can see that once we get passed the images of dead kids in 6 mos. from now we will go back to the same wild wild west mentality.
Dec 20, 2012 1:52PM
This is an thinly-disguised Opinion Piece masquerading as news with a few informational tidbits thrown in for appearance.

11 years ago, 3,000 people were slaughtered and billions of dollars in damage caused. You don't hear much about that any more. We will remember, we will mourn, and we will move on as the government continues unabated to whittle-away our rights and Constitutional freedoms with the full support of an uninformed minority.
Dec 20, 2012 1:50PM
If the guns WalMart is selling are made in China, should buyers be concerned that they may contain something harmful that could potentially kill unsuspecting consumers? Like Lead?
Dec 20, 2012 1:47PM
Still no good excuse for why we need the AR-15. Can't we just beat those damn things into ploughshares already?
Dec 20, 2012 1:02PM
I am not anti-gun, but have never seen a purpose for this type of weapon to be in a private persons home! I heard about this on the news last night & it made me sick!  I realize people buying this weapon are rushing out & buying it before the government cracks down on the sale of them. But seriously what does anyone need a weapon like this for? Next question, will the owner be willing to be held responsible for this weapon should it fall into the wrong hands? Theirs or anyone else's? Now that so many people have found it necessary to rush out & do this, I think the government should tie that in to this measure they are about to consider, maybe then people won't be so gung ho to own such a dangerous weapon.
Dec 20, 2012 12:48PM
You're kidding, right? Seniors whining about paying taxes on Social Security? When you started to contribute, it was like $10 a pay or $500 annually. You get three times that a month now. I am NOT retired, paid the maximum annually every year I was employed and they still take it from my small business. According to analysts, I'll begin collecting at 67 and it will run dry before I'm 75. You are pariah in America... you have had it all and want more. GET OUT.

As for guns selling out at Wal-Mart. If we didn't have Wal-Mart, we would have economy. if we had economy, people would be working, happier in life, and able to deal with issues. People are dying because we have a Wal-Mart instead of millions of businesses. Now, we have more nuts with guns. Guns don't kill, nuts shop at Wal-Mart and buy guns. That's a problem.

Dec 20, 2012 12:35PM
Obama cited a recent survey showing that the "majority" of Americans support him in this effort.  He neglected to point out that the underlying data in that survey also said that the "majority of Democrats living in Urban Areas" support his efforts while the Majority of Republicans living in rural areas oppose his efforts.  Solution: (1) pass a law that makes it a local option to ban weapons, (2) allow enough time for Urban areas to implement that law while rural areas do not, (3) sign the petitions from rural States which want to secede from the Union, (4) let the Urban States that remain in the Union defend themselves with rocks.
Dec 20, 2012 12:29PM

Face it. We  didn't pay into it nearly as much as we get out, although had we invested it on our own we'd no doubt have more. But then again, how many people would have saved?


What really ticks me is having to pay income tax on part of my SS when I paid in full when it was earned.

Why should the Senior Citizens have to suffer ?  We paid into this all of  our working years and Now "They"  want to make us pay again?!!
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