Walmart is introducing new restrictions on sales of ammunition, in a move it said would more than halve its share of the market.
A month after a mass shooting at one of its stores, the retailer said on Tuesday it would discontinue sales of ammunition that can be used in handguns and in military-style weapons.
It will also stop sales of handguns in Alaska, the last remaining US state where the company sold them, it said.
Doug McMillon, chief executive, wrote in a memo to staff: “We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand.” He estimated the curbs would cut the company’s market share of ammunition from about one-fifth to between 6 per cent and 9 per cent.
The restrictions come after a gunman with an assault-style rifle launched an attack at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people. A few days earlier a Walmart worker killed two colleagues in Southaven, Mississippi.
“We experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” Mr McMillon wrote. Walmart’s remaining firearm products would be focused on meeting hunting and sports-shooting demand, he added.
Walmart has faced growing pressure from investors and employees to reconsider its gun policies. Smaller rivals such as Dick’s Sporting Goods have tightened their policies on gun sales in response to mass shootings.
Walmart had previously stopped selling handguns and military-style rifles such as the AR-15, and also prohibited sales to people under the age of 21, but faced calls to go further. Activists have targeted Walmart for its continued commitment to firearms sales.
The growing ranks of investors focused on social responsibility criteria has raised the financial stakes in the gun debate. Last month, the American Federation of Teachers, the largest US teachers union, threatened to call for a back-to-school shopping boycott of Walmart unless it stopped selling guns and funding politicians who are backed by the National Rifle Association.
A petition signed by almost 150,000 people similarly called on the retailer to end all gun sales, stop funding pro-gun candidates and not allow shoppers to bring guns into its stores.
In addition to the sales restrictions, Walmart also said on Tuesday it was requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into its stores in states where the law allows it.
Since the El Paso shooting, Mr McMillon said, several individuals had entered Walmart stores carrying weapons “in a way that frightened or concerned our associates and customers”.