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 3:51PM
The guns are being bought by people who are being screwed by the government, so they better listen to who employs them.
Dec 20, 2012 3:47PM
Ok. Seems the writers of all these stories are equating the Sandyhook shootings to oh less say Pearl Harbor, 911 and other catastrophic things that have happened her in the land of the "free". It is a sad occurence but I'm betting right now there isn't one person other thann the parents of the kids that name on in th eColobine shootings. It fades, hell I can't remember the first person our government told me to kill, what's the difference. Thanks Walmart for not bowing down to 10 people that thiink with there small brains.
Dec 20, 2012 3:47PM
I'm a purple voting, suburban dwelling woman who does not own any guns. And just as I did not support the persecution of Muslims as a group after 9/11, I do not support this persecution of legal gun owners as a group after this tragedy.
Dec 20, 2012 3:46PM

 Guess our national leaders didn't expect this. On Thursday,
 Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High
School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House
Judiciary Committee's subcommittee. What he said to our national
 leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully  truthful.
The following is a portion of the transcript:

 "Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the
 hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds
 of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the
 deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must
 not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.

"The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother
 Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it
 the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the
 reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart.

 "In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at
 how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not
 a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not
 here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are
 responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they
 need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's
 murder I would be their strongest opponent.
I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a
 tragedy -- it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at
where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of
 the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves."

So I am here to say that just because I don't want our personal rights taken away with gun control does NOT in any way make me insensitive to what happened to those poor poor children and their families. If Someone like Mr. Scott (God Bless Him) can say these difficult words, I think I can as well. Shame on the people that are using this tragedy to get their agenda passed.
Dec 20, 2012 3:40PM
typical knee jerk reaction. no one should ever negotiate any thing ,let alone constitutional rights , while emotionally charged. these anti gun folks don't know one gun from the other . strongarms right . the ar-15 isn't any different than any other gun. the anti crowd wouldn't know a .223 is a direct cross to the 5.56mm. so lets take a 12ga. Rem 1100 and filler up with 3"mag  oo buck thats 12 -32 cal balls per round  and it holds 5. now cut the choke off  and unload.  who ever was standing in front of that puppy would wish you showed up with an ar-15.
Dec 20, 2012 3:39PM
I am one irate American. If there is anything worse than irate that is what I am. Let's see; We had the greatest government in the world until these past few years when self interest politicians and proven crooked politicians began trying to take away our constitutional rights. I am pissed!!! In God we trust. Are we to be denied openly our belief in God. Let's see; Iran, Iraq, Lybia to mention a couple of the far east Muslin countries that "DO it their way"  or be beheaded or have your hands cut off or entire villages wiped out. Far eastreners have been murdering each other since the beginning of time, this is a historical proven fact! Those low life bastards in Washington want to disarm America and now we are really at their mercy. I would rather die defending a free America than be hereded ready for slaughter like a slaved American. Take away Americans guns and we are doomed!! "Extremly hard punishment" for the wacked out idiots that kill the innocent. I mean extremly bad punishment. Our dangerous politicians want to punish and disarm the innocent, the true Americans in their effort to dismantle America. I pray to God that true Americans will stand together and let our wacked out politicians we are not going to be pushed any more. Come on Americans, stand together and take America back. Keep our faith, our freedom and our guns. Enough is enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!     
Dec 20, 2012 3:39PM
when tthe people fear the government you have tyranny, when the government fear the people you have liberty!!!!
Dec 20, 2012 3:37PM
I feel so much better Thanks Wally World for making everyday brighter and better for all in America!
Dec 20, 2012 3:25PM
bought a piston for one of my daughters over the weekend, she loves to shoot. however I dont buy anything more than ammo at walmart as they really dont have the selection of good guns like at a real gun shop or store.  I will be buying a 50cal semi soon and an AR10  maybe an armalite  just because they have more kick than the 223.
Dec 20, 2012 3:25PM

Some mentally disturbed person, steals a gun from his irresponsible mother whom if fact showed him how to use the weapons (illegally) and kills her.  Then sets out on a killing spree, which was a tradatigy in itself.   Now, supposedly over the coming end of the world 12-21-2012.   Now all the doomsayers want all the guns taken away which is ridiculous. (more than likely Obama supporters)   If the ill-fated TiTanic sunk last week,  what would they seek?  go out and blow up all the ice-bergs.  Or, even outlaw ocean liners.  I commend Wal-Mart, not to succumb to these chicken little doomsayers!

Dec 20, 2012 3:19PM
Just one more reason why I do not step one foot into Walmart!
Dec 20, 2012 3:17PM
Pretty sure i am headed to WalMart today after work to see if i can buy another AR-15!
Dec 20, 2012 3:14PM
That ahole brit piers morgan had a show last night against rifles. he kept using the AR-15 as the example of guns that should be outlawed, because they shoot too fast. He must not want the military to use the gun since that's the only place the gun is legal. What an idiot, calling to outlaw a gun already outlawed. But the single issue uninformed people don't have any idea this whole show was ****
Dec 20, 2012 3:09PM
When are people going to understand guns are a symptom of the disease, just like the fertilizer and diesel fuel, just like I.E.D.s, (anybody remember the Unabomber, Weathermen, etc).  The disease the society we have created.  Until we have a serious conversation about that, then all the gun control, fertilizer control, etc. is not going to work.    
Dec 20, 2012 3:08PM
Take the guns away,but that is not the problem.Taking the medical help and drugs away from mental people is.
Dec 20, 2012 3:06PM
Can someone tell me how the AR15 that was used to kill all those innocent people and children was found in the trunk of a car after all the shooting took place?  A ghost maybe? All of this is ridiculous and same goes for anyone who actually believes a single word that comes from our media.  Our media is the problem, NOT guns or gun owners.  More food for thought for all you media believers/ anti-firearm activists; can you tell us the difference between a semi-auto AR15 that fires a .223 round and any other semi-auto rifle that fires a .223 round?  Does the AR15 somehow cause more harm?  
Dec 20, 2012 3:05PM
The higher the density of democrats, the higher the crime and murder rates.
Dec 20, 2012 3:04PM

Bought me 2 last night as an early Xmas gift to myself... I even wrapped 1 and put it under the tree so I can have a "surprise" Xmas day.

Dec 20, 2012 2:57PM
what about the guy walking down the hall throwing lit sticks of t.n.t into classrooms--boom--big gun.
Dec 20, 2012 2:57PM
There is absolutely no need for assault weapons of any kind for home safety. None. I hope these idiots going out there buying these types of weapons are forced to turn them over when new laws are put in place. Ridiculous. Grown people are like little freakin kids. "Well I am gonna do it anyway.." mentality. Stomping their little feet and throwing a hissy fit and rebelling. Sheesh. Why can't people get it through their heads that a simple handgun for home safety is sufficient? Why do those idiots need to have military style weapons? 
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