Wal-Mart will resume selling rifles, shotguns and ammunition at hundreds of stores as part of what The Wall Street Journal calls a “major retooling of [Wal-Mart’s] U.S. operations,” in which the retailer is returning to shelves many “heritage categories” it pulled a few years ago.
Wal-Mart, which is experiencing its worst-ever U.S. slump, had stopped selling rifles, shotguns and bullets at all but a third of its 3,600 U.S. stores, but the change will bring the products back to about half of the locations. Wal-Mart is the largest seller of firearms and ammunition in the country.
“We made a business decision to sell them in certain stores because we have realized the appeal was perhaps broader than we thought,” Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar told The Wall Street Journal. “But we are committed to doing it as responsibly as possible, as always, in compliance with all applicable local, state and federal laws.”
Wal-Mart hasn’t sold handguns at its stores since the early 1990s, when it discontinued them save for special orders in Alaska. It continued to sell the ammunition. It voluntarily agreed to adopt stricter gun sales policies in 2008 as part of a pact with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group co-founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The company was among a group of federally licensed firearms dealers that met with Justice Department officials Tuesday to discuss ways to improve the system of criminal background checks.
The company said that the majority of the stores that will put guns and ammunition back on shelves are in rural areas.
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Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com