Andrew Ross Sarkin, a financial columnist for The New York Times, has been covering reactions from the business world to the escalating gun violence and their responsibilities in regards to guns and gun sales. He has written “open letters” to CEOs of major businesses, reminding them that they have a moral responsibility to take action to stop this run-away train of gun violence.
On Thursday, I listened to an interview with him on The Daily Podcast and was thrilled to hear more about Walmart’s decision to stop selling certain types of guns and ammunition.
For years, most retailers, including Walmart, have been reluctant to take a stand against the proliferation of assault weapons and ammunition for those types of guns. They didn’t want to risk the same kind of financial push-back that came after Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would no longer sell assault weapons, following the 2017 mass shooting at Parkland, Florida. Stock in the company fell in 2018, as did sales, but there has been a rebound in profitability this year, even though Dick’s has stopped selling guns and ammunition entirely at ten of its stores.
After meeting with survivors and families in Parkland, Dick’s CEO, Ed Stack, told Donica Phifer a reporter for The Washington Post “What I promised the families in Parkland when I left is that we would keep this conversation going. And that’s what I’ve done.”
Now Walmart is stepping up.
A month after a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, the nation’s largest retailer said that it would stop selling ammunition used for handguns and military-style weapons and call on Congress to consider a new ban on assault rifles. This was announced on Tuesday by CEO Doug McMillon.
In an own open letter to Walmart employees, McMillon, said the company would stop selling ammunition used for handguns and military-style weapons, completely end the sale of handguns and discourage anyone from carrying weapons in his stores (even in “open carry” states).
Immediate response to that announcement from the financial world was not a drop in stock value. In fact Walmart stock increased in share value. Lauren Thomas at CNBC News, reported on the latest market standings, “Shares of gun and ammunition makers added to losses earlier in the day. Vista Outdoor’s stock closed down 6%. Smith & Wesson parent company American Outdoor Brands’ stock fell nearly 4.5%. Sturm Ruger & Company shares closed down 0.6%. Walmart shares ended the day up 0.3%.”
Sarkin wrote in his opinion piece in the New York Times, and repeated in the podcast interview: …the move by Doug McMillan “to engage in a meaningful conversation about responsible gun sales in America, could give license to other business leaders to enter into conversation.”
Of course, the NRA had to respond in negative terms: “It is shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites. Lines at Walmart will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America’s fundamental freedoms.”
I’m sorry NRA, but our fundamental freedoms do not include providing weapons of mass violence to those who think shooting up a school, or a store, or a church serves some kind of perverted purpose. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the framers of our Constitution had no way of knowing what kind of weapons would be available to citizens some 200 years after the words were written. It’s past time that we took a different look at the Second Amendment – the whole thing, not just one phrase – and write a new amendment that will safeguard the people of this country.
That’s all for me folks. My thoughts and prayers are with all who are in the path of Hurricane Dorian. That has been one nasty storm. Be safe. Be happy.