Walmart has instituted a new corporate policy that bars its stores from selling semi-automatic AR-15-style rifles and semi-automatic shotguns that have a magazine capacity of seven shots or more, multiple news outlets report.
According to Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg, the massive retailer will replace ARs and self-defense and competition shotguns with budget-oriented bolt guns, rimfire rifles and pump-action shotguns. The spokesman denied that politics had anything to do with the decision, telling the Bearing Arms blog that a slump in AR and semi-auto shotgun sales prompted the company to pull those types of guns from its shelves.
While AR-15 rifles remain the top-selling long gun nationwide, sales volume has leveled off and many manufacturers and distributors have excess inventory on their shelves.
Though Lundberg denied the company bent to public opinion, Walmart has been the target of anti-gun groups who are pushing the retail giant ban some firearms sales. In December 2013, New York City-based Trinity Church sued to force a shareholder vote on whether “Walmart should sell products that are … especially dangerous to the public [and] pose a substantial risk to company reputation and would reasonably be considered offensive to the community and family values that Walmart seeks to associate with its brand,” including products with “high-capacity magazines.”
A Federal appeals judge tossed the Trinity Church lawsuit in April.
Reports indicate the retail chain will sell off the rest of its inventory of AR-style rifles and self-defense shotguns at deeply discounted prices.
The impact of Walmart’s decision could have huge consequences for the firearms industry. While only a fraction of Walmart stores sell firearms, some gun companies depend on the retailer for a large chunk of their profits. In its latest financial report, Remington Outdoor Company said Walmart accounted for nearly 10 percent of its firearms and ammunition sales in the last six months, with AR-style rifles leading Remington’s push.
“In the event Walmart were to significantly reduce or terminate its purchases of firearms, ammunition and/or other products from us, our financial condition or results of operations could be adversely affected,” Remington Outdoor Company said.