Walmart (WMT) CEO Doug McMillon said the retailer will be “thoughtful and deliberate” in its responses following the mass shootings and the renewed debate around gun violence.
“As it becomes clear that the shooting in El Paso was motivated by hate, we’re more resolved than ever to foster an inclusive environment where all people are valued and welcomed. Our store in El Paso is well known as a tight-knit community hub, where we serve customers from both sides of the border. I continue to be amazed at the strength and resilience we find in the diversity of communities where we live and work,” McMillon wrote in a lengthy post on his Instagram page on Tuesday.
He continued: “We’re a learning organization, and we’ll work to understand the many important issues arising from El Paso and Southaven as well as those raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence. We’ll be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and will act in a way that reflects our best values and ideals, focused on the needs of our customers, associates and communities.”
A representative for Walmart didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment following the Instagram post.
Walmart, the world's largest retailer and nation's biggest private employer, is facing pressure to end the sale of firearms altogether following a pair of mass shootings. In an open letter to McMillon, New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin called on the CEO to use the company’s clout “to help fix a system that is clearly broken, to solve a crisis whose costs are measured in lives, not just in profits and losses.”
In El Paso, Texas, Patrick Crusius, 21 of Allen, Texas, killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen after opening fire in a Walmart. Days earlier, in Southaven, Mississippi, a disgruntled Walmart employee, 39-year-old Martez Tarrell Abram, killed two store associates and injured a police officer.
Walmart has made notable changes in recent years
A Walmart spokesperson told Yahoo Finance on Monday that the company had no immediate plans to change its policies around the sale of firearms in the wake of the shootings.
The big box retailer has made changes in recent years, including ending the sale of modern-sporting rifles, like the AR-15, in 2015. Last year, Walmart also raised the minimum age for purchase to 21. The company also removed nonlethal airsoft guns and toys that resembled assault-style firearms from its website. The retailer stopped selling handguns in 1993, except for in Alaska. In 2006, Walmart began phasing out firearms sales across 1,000 locations, nearly one-third of its stores at the time.
In 2008, Walmart and a coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns developed a 10-point plan to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands. That plan included the "video recording of sales, rigid controls on inventory, checks that gun purchasers are not misrepresenting themselves and the development of a first-of-its kind computerized crime gun trace log for retailers." Specifically, that log would flag customers who previously bought guns used in crimes.
While Walmart continues to be criticized for its role in the sale of firearms, the company's policy on sales is stricter than the current federal laws. Walmart goes beyond federal guidelines by requiring customers to pass a background check before purchasing a firearm.
Under The Brady Act, if the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) isn't resolved within three business days, the discretion is left to the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) about whether or not to make the firearm transfer. Walmart will not make the sale until the background check is complete.
According to the 2018 NICS Operations Report, many transactions are delayed "because of incomplete criminal history records, e.g., a missing disposition or a missing crime classification status (felony or misdemeanor), which is needed to determine if a transaction can proceed or must be denied." In 2018, 10% of all transactions processed were delayed, while only 1.21% were denied.
Julia La Roche is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.