The two largest gun retailers in the US have announced they will no longer sell assault-style rifles. Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods revealed this decision on Wednesday. Walmart said in a statement that it won’t sell guns to buyers under 21 years old anymore. The retailer also added that any items resembling assault-style rifles will not be available on its shelves. This includes toys and air guns.
Dick’s Sporting Goods also took similar steps early on Wednesday. The retailer said that it will stop selling assault-style rifles with immediate effect. Also, high-capacity magazines won’t be available. Customers will need to be at least 21 years old to buy a gun despite local laws. US federal law requires gun buyers to be at least 21 years old but 18-year-olds can buy semi-automatic rifles and other guns.
These announcements could throw the two companies right in the middle of the gun debate that has continued to polarize the country. The decisions also come barely two weeks after a shooter armed with an AR-15 rifle killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The retailers noted that their decisions came as a response to the Florida shooting. The announcements also follow the decisions made by a number of high-profile US companies to sever ties with the National Rifle Association of America in response to the shootings.
Earlier, President Donald Trump held a bipartisan meeting at the White House with lawmakers on gun reform in the country. Reports indicate that some of the measures proposed during the meeting are vigorously opposed by the NRA.
This would not be the first time however that Walmart is taking a stand in the gun debate. In 2015, the retailer confirmed that it had discontinued the sale of high-powered rifles including the AR-15 that was used in the Florida shooting. Walmart said at the time that the decision was made because of the low customer demand for this type of rifle.
Walmart sells guns in half of its 4,000 supercenters located in various parts of the country. The retailer serves more than 150 million Americans every week and its decision to discontinue the sale of assault-style weapons could have a significant effect in the gun industry.
It’s also not the first time that Dick’s Sporting Goods is banning the sale of high-powered rifles. The company had actually stopped selling assault-style weapons back in 2012 after a shooter killed 26 people at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
However, the company still made the weapons available through its hunting retail chain Field & Stream. But this time, Dick’s Sporting Goods is going for a full ban. The AR-15 style rifle won’t be available in any of its stores.
The public reaction to these announcements has been quite positive, especially on social media. It won’t be a surprise if other companies too start to take a definitive action on gun-related issues in the country.