After Walmart’s welcome announcement last week that it would immediately stop selling certain types of ammunition and would also request that customers in “open carry” states not carry their weapons into the company’s stores, the National Rifle Association’s response was as implacable as it was predictable.
“It is shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites,” thundered the NRA, adding that the retailer “has chosen to victimize law-abiding Americans.”
Like the decision in March by the Dick’s Sporting Goods chain to end guns and ammo sales at 125 of its 720 stores nationwide, Walmart’s move surely was market-tested, even market-driven. This is not to denigrate the wisdom and fortitude behind these corporate actions, but rather to emphasize that both Dick’s and Walmart are being responsive and responsible to customers of their 5,000 stores nationwide.
Having long portrayed itself as the champion of the rights of ordinary Americans, as opposed to a shill for corporate manufacturers of firearms, the NRA, with an assist from its allies, is laboring to make Walmart out to be a corporate enemy turning its back on regular folks. Perhaps some of those regular folks are among the majority of NRA members whom polls consistently show are supportive of enhanced background checks and other matter-of-fact public safety measures to which the organization supposedly representing their interests is so ferociously opposed.
The fact remains that two major American retailers serving mainstream, middle-class, and presumably patriotic customers have concluded it is good business and in the public interest to defy an NRA accustomed to getting its way. These are economics-driven moves supported by extensive market research — and Congress should pay attention. It’s time for lawmakers accustomed to cowering before the perceived power of the NRA to step up, and act in the best interest of citizens.