Wal-Mart to stop selling AR-15s, sim­i­lar weapons


Wal-Mart will stop selling the AR-15 ri­fle and other semi-au­to­matic weapons at its stores be­cause fewer peo­ple are buy­ing them, a spokesman said Wed­nes­day.

The AR-15 ri­fles and other mod­ern sport­ing ri­fles were be­ing sold at less than a third of the com­pany’s 4,600 U.S. stores. Com­pany spokesman Kory Lund­berg said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will re­move the re­main­ing in­ven­tory as stores tran­si­tion from sum­mer to fall mer­chan­dise, which should take a week or two to com­plete.

Lund­berg said the de­ci­sion to re­move the weapons was not po­lit­i­cal and that the Bentonville, Arkansas­based re­tailer made the de­ci­sion ear­lier this year.

“It’s sim­i­lar to what we do with any prod­uct. Be­ing what it is, it gets a lit­tle more at­ten­tion, but it’s the same process for any other prod­uct,” Lund­berg said.

Lund­berg said the com­pany had seen a de­crease in sales of the par­tic­u­lar mod­els of guns, but de­clined to give spe­cific sales num­bers. He said stores would in­crease in­ven­tory of other mod­els of shot­guns and ri­fles pop­u­lar among hun­ters.

“We wanted to make sure when cus­tomers are com­ing and look­ing to pur­chase those prod­ucts, they see the prod­ucts they want. We see more busi­ness from hun­ters and peo­ple shoot­ing clay,” he said.

Sev­eral an­a­lysts said the de­ci­sion was likely based on sales and de­mand.

“Big re­tail­ers don’t make de­ci­sions on a whim, and it would ap­pear that they are re­spond­ing to their mar­ket,” said Jason Maloni, a cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tions ex­pert at LEVICK. “This seems to be a strate­gic de­ci­sion of Wal-Mart to ad­dress cus­tomer de­sires.”

In re­cent years, share­hold­ers have placed some pres­sure on the com­pany to re­con­sider its sales poli- cies of prod­ucts such as weapons that hold high-ca­pac­ity mag­a­zines. Bush­mas­ter vari­a­tions of the semi­au­to­matic AR-15 have been used in such high-pro­file mass shoot­ings as the Sandy Hook mas­sacre in New­town, Con­necti­cut, and the theater shoot­ing in Aurora, Colorado.

The his­toric Trin­ity Church on Wall Street in New York, which owns stock in Wal-Mart, filed a law­suit last year af­ter the com­pany de­clined to al­low a share­holder vote on the church’s pro­posal for the board of di­rec­tors to more closely re­view poli­cies on sales de­ci­sions of prod­ucts that could “en­dan­ger public safety and well-be­ing” or hurt the com­pany’s rep­u­ta­tion or em­pha­sis on fam­ily and com­mu­nity val­ues.

A lower court ruled that the share­hold­ers should be al­lowed to con­sider the pro­posal, but a U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals judge lifted that in­junc­tion. The church has not ap­pealed, but of­fi­cials said they are not ready to drop the law­suit ei­ther.

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