SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (localmemphis.com) – Walmart announced Tuesday it will no longer sell ammunition for handguns and assault rifles, and it will ask customers not to openly carry firearms into its stores.
The stunning announcement was from Walmart’s CEO, who said it was to “make the country safer,” specifically after the deadly shooting last month in Southaven and in Texas.
“If you stop the ammunition sales, you’ll stop a lot of violence and a lot of crime so I think it’s a good move,” said Walmart shopper Stanley Jones.
Tuesday was Stanley Jones’ first day coming back to the Southaven Walmart since managers Anthony Brown and Brandon Gales were shot to death in late July. Suspended employee Martez Abram was charged in their deaths. Abram is still in Memphis at the hospital.
“We’ve spoken with an attorney that indicated that he had one more surgery to go through,” said Chief Deputy Mark Little.
Walmart, which sells one in every 5 bullets in the U.S., announced it is halting the sale of ammunition for handguns and assault rifles.
“What’s that gonna stop?’ questioned gun owner and dealer Billy Watkins. “If people want guns they can get guns. Either legally or illegally. People can buy ammunition anywhere. If they take it off the shelf they’ll just go somewhere else.”
Gun owner and dealer Billy Watkins thinks the move won’t get to the root of the problem: stopping shooters from killing the innocent.
The retailer is also asking people in open-carry states not to bring guns into stores.. Following the shootings in Southaven, El Paso, Dayton, and just this weekend, Odessa, Texas.
“This is a ‘stand your ground’ state so you know it seems to me the more armed people you have the safer you’d be. If I worked at Walmart I’d want to be able to able to carry a pistol,” said Watkins.
Walmart stopped selling military-style weapons in 2015, saying it will also cease all handgun sales in Alaska, the last place in America Walmart sold them. The chain says it will still carry hunting rifles and shotguns.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to bring your guns because anything can happen,” said Jones. “It’s children around and you might accidentally drop it and it goes off.”
The National Rifle Association released the following statement Tuesday regarding Walmart’s decision to change its firearms and ammunition policies: “The strongest defense of freedom has always been our free-market economy. 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. The truth is Walmart’s actions today will not make us any safer. Rather than place the blame on the criminal, Walmart has chosen to victimize law-abiding Americans. Our leaders must be willing to approach the problems of crime, violence and mental health with sincerity and honesty.”
Meanwhile Southaven Police confirm suspect Martez Abram is fighting extradition back to Mississippi. The next step is a warrant from the state governor. That process is still in the works.
Local 24 News reached out to the victims families, but they chose not to speak.