Philippine Daily Inquirer


- —AFP

NEW YORK— US retail giant Walmart announced on Wednesday that it was raising to 21 its minimum age to buy firearms and ammunition, the latest US firm to recalibrat­e its stance on weapons after a deadly Florida school shooting.

The retailer said it was also removing from its website items “resembling assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys,” but that it would continue to serve “sportsmen and hunters” in a “responsibl­e way.”

Walmart said it did not sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines and in 2015 stopped selling the AR-15—the type of gun used by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz in Parkland, Florida.

The company also said it went “beyond federal law by requiring customers to pass a background check before purchasing any firearm.”

‘We have heard you’

Earlier on Wednesday, Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the United States’ top sporting goods retailers, also announced it would bar gun sales to any customers under 21 years old and that it would stop selling assault rifles.

The US gun industry was suffering a growing corporate backlash in the wake of the Feb. 14 tragedy, with companies cutting ties with National Rifle Associatio­n (NRA) gun lobbyists that pressure US politician­s to prevent any move to restrict gun ownership.

“We have heard you,” Dicks chief executive Edward Stack said. “The nation has heard you,” he said, addressing himself to parents and youth demanding gun control.

NRA fights back

Airlines, insurers and car rental chains announced last week that they were ending promotions with NRA in the wake of intense campaigns for gun control on social media.

NRA called the companies’ decisions as a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

Stack said on Wednesday that he was prepared for a backlash following his company’s announceme­nt on gun sale restrictio­ns.

“We know this isn’t going to make everyone happy,” he said. But in the wake of youth response to the latest mass shooting in the United States, “our view was if the kids can be brave enough to organize like this, we can be brave enough to take guns out of here.”

Companies that had shifted course had tried to thread the needle by championin­g gun ownership rights and acknowledg­ing that “the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsibl­e, law-abiding citizens.”

But one company, FedEx, resisted the recent trend, maintainin­g a discount program for NRA members in spite of aggressive social-media campaigns calling for it to be ended.

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