With President Barack Obama endorsing sweeping gun restrictions in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, prices for handgun magazines are surging on EBay and semi-automatic rifles are sold out at many Walmart Stores.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said yesterday that it would continue to sell guns, including rifles like the one used at Newtown, where 26 people, most of them children, were killed on Dec. 14.
By contrast, Dick’s Sporting Goods suspended sales of similar guns at its more than 500 stores.
Searches of five kinds of semi-automatic rifles on Walmart’s website showed them to be out of stock at stores in five states, including Pennsylvania, Kansas and Alabama.
Walmart doesn’t sell guns online, instead asking customers to input a zip code to see if their local store carries a specific weapon.
“We remain dedicated to the safe and responsible sale of firearms in areas of the country where they are sold,” David Tovar, a spokesman for Walmart, said yesterday.
Another spokesman, Kory Lundberg, said that the company is sticking by its decision not to change its gun assortment. He declined to comment on gun sales since Newtown. Walmart sells guns in 1,800 of its more than 3,800 U.S. stores, he said.
Rifles like the one used in Newtown are available in 1,200 locations and the retailer doesn’t sell high-capacity magazines for those guns, he said. Business Week
Walmart has about 10 modern sporting rifles, the gun industry’s term for firearms that look like an M-16 military rifle, listed on its website. The retailer removed a description and picture of the Bushmaster AR-15, which was the model used in Newtown, after the shootings.
In 2006, Walmart reduced the number and variety of guns it offered in stores, but then reintroduced firearms to many stores in April 2011 as part of a strategy to add merchandise back to shelves and revive sales growth at its Walmart locations in the U.S.
The move may have helped as U.S. Walmart stores posted their first gain in same-store sales in more than two years in October 2011.
Walmart doesn’t disclose how many guns it sells, though at an analysts’ meeting in October it said gun revenue gained 76 percent in the first half of this fiscal year. Bloomberg