Walmart CEO: It's time to debate renewing U.S. assault weapons ban

By Kate Gibson

/ MoneyWatch

Mayors urge bipartisan action on gun control

Under pressure to stop selling guns after recent shootings at two Walmart stores in Mississippi and Texas, the retailer's CEO, Doug McMillon, on Thursday said the U.S. should revisit banning assault weapons.

In prepared remarks that came with Walmart's quarterly earnings, McMillon gingerly stepped into the political storm surrounding guns and an epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S.

"In the national conversation around gun safety, we're encouraged that broad support is emerging to strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger," he stated. "The reauthorization of the assault weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness in keeping weapons made for war out of the 3 hands of mass murderers."

Commonly called the assault weapons ban, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act was adopted in 1994 and expired a decade later. The now-lapsed law prohibited the manufacture or sale for civilian use of certain semi-automatic weapons that could be converted to fire automatically and magazines that could accommodate 10 rounds or more.

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Walmart, which has for years declined to break out its gun sales from its overall sales figures, on Thursday estimated it represents about 2% of the market for firearms. That puts Walmart outside at least the top three sellers in the industry, estimated the company. Walmart's share of the U.S. ammunition market comes to about 20%, McMillon said. The Arkansas-based company's total global net sales were about $500 billion last year.

The projections from Walmart comes after a shooting rampage earlier this month that killed at least 22 people at one of its stores in El Paso, Texas, and a separate incident days earlier in which an employee shot and killed two other workers at a Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi.

Walmart stopped sales of assault rifles in 2015 following several mass shootings and hiked the minimum age for gun purchases to 21 last year following the Parkland, Florida, massacre.

— This is a developing story and will be updated.

First published on August 15, 2019 / 10:28 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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