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After El Paso massacre, Walmart CEO is 'encouraged' by support for stronger background checks for gun buyers

Key Points
  • In the wake of the El Paso Walmart massacre, CEO Doug McMillon says he's "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."
  • In Walmart's earnings statement, he says the retailer is taking steps to "create an even safer environment in our stores."
People pay their respects at the makeshift memorial for victims of the shooting that left a total of 22 people dead at the Cielo Vista Mall WalMart in El Paso, Texas, on August 6, 2019.
Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

In the wake of deadly shootings at two Walmarts, CEO Doug McMillon said Thursday the retailer will take additional actions to "strengthen our processes, improve our technology and create an even safer environment in our stores."

McMillon made his comments in Walmart's second-quarter earnings report, which was issued 12 days after the Aug. 3 mass shooting at an El Paso, Texas, store in which 22 people died. On July 30, a disgruntled employee allegedly shot two people to death at a Walmart in Mississippi.

Walmart, which says it has a 2% share of the U.S. gun market, has been under pressure to make changes to its policies in the wake of these shootings.

"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," McMillon said. But the company didn't announce any new restrictions on Thursday.

The CEO added there should be a debate about whether or not an assault weapons ban would even be effective in keeping these weapons out of the hands of mass murderers. "We must also do more to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior," he said.

Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said last week about half of its 4,700 U.S. locations sell guns, with more selling ammunition. But Hargrove said there were no plans for Walmart to change its firearms policies.

Walmart did say it would remove displays of violent video games.

Here's McMillon's full statement:

Our hearts continue to be with our associates in El Paso and Southaven and we are focused on the safety of our associates and customers in all our stores and clubs. Those tragic and painful events will be with us forever, and our hearts go out to the families that were impacted. I continue to be amazed by the courage, resilience and caring of our people. As it's become clearer that the shooting in El Paso was motivated by hate, we are more resolved than ever to foster an inclusive environment where all people are valued and welcomed.

As we've shared previously, we will strive to use these experiences to identify additional actions we can take to strengthen our processes, improve our technology and create an even safer environment in our stores. We're also thinking through the broader issues related to gun violence and things we should do to help create safer communities. We would like for everyone to be reminded of the steps we've already taken:

• We stopped selling handguns in every state but Alaska in the mid-90s.
• We stopped selling military-style rifles such as the AR-15 in 2015.
• We raised the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21 in 2018.
• Walmart only sells a firearm after receiving a "green light" on a background check, while federal law only requires the absence of a "red light" after three business days. We don't sell a firearm until we receive a "green light" regardless of the time period.
• We videotape the point of sale for firearms, only allow certain associates to sell firearms, and secure firearms in a locking case with individual locks, among other measures.


We've attempted to take common sense steps that allow us to serve customers and create a safer environment. We estimate that we represent about 2 percent of the market for firearms today, which we believe places us outside at least the top three sellers in the industry. We estimate we have about a 20 percent share of ammunition.


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. We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe 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. We must also do more to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior.