News & Politics

Walmart and Dick's Bypass Congress, Adopt Their Own Stricter Gun Control Policies

People are outraged, and the companies are listening.

Photo Credit: Walmart

Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods both announced this week that regardless of congressional inaction, they will voluntarily adopt stricter gun policies.

Walmart said Wednesday that it will no longer sell firearms or ammunition to anyone under age 21, despite the fact that many states allow these purchases. Dick's has adopted the same policy, and will also end sales of assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines. Walmart already doesn't sell assault rifles, high-capacity magazines or handguns (except for in Alaska), and neither store sells bump-stocks.

"[T]houghts and prayers are not enough," Dick's said in a statement, noting that its decision was made in reflection on the Parkland shooting. "We have to help solve the problem that's in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that's taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America—our kids."

Walmart's statement simply said that the change came "in light of recent events."

These announcements come after a slew of companies announced they were cutting ties with the National Rifle Association. 

None of these businesses are making these changes purely from an altruistic change of heart. It's more likely they recognize that the American people take gun control and responsible policy seriously. Being associated with the excessive rates of gun violence in the United States is bad business.

When lawmakers won't act, pressuring businesses to adopt more sensible policies—like not selling an 18-year-old a weapon of war—may prove to be a fruitful course of action.

But we also shouldn't take these company's statements at face value. Dick's said it would stop selling assault-style rifles in 2012 before it backtracked. Now it's saying it won't reverse itself again, but the public must remain vigilant to keep these companies honest. 

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.