Yielding to pressure by anti-gun groups, Walmart announced last week that it would stop selling the high-powered AK-47 rifles in its stores in the United States in the wake of the Virginia shooting of two journalists on live TV.
Walmart said the decision predated the Virginia shootings but some suggest the announcement was moved up to deflect expected attacks on the retail chain even though the Virginia gunman used a handgun to shoot his victims – a type of weapon the company does not sell.
Walmart, the nation’s largest seller of guns and ammunition, said the decision to end sale of rifles due to lower consumer demand not gun politics adding that it would expand its selection of shotguns and other weapons used by hunters.
The war against the long rifles began decades ago when the anti-gun lobby coined the term “Military Style Assault Rifle” to describe long rifles based on the way they look not how they operate.
What’s more, anti-gun activists have worked hard with their acolytes in the so-called “mainstream” media to confuse the public about difference between automatic firearms, which continue to fire as long as the trigger is pulled (illegal) and semiautomatic firearms, which fires one, round each time the trigger is pulled (legal).
Despite these equivocations, gun control advocates hailed the company’s action as a victory because rifles were used by shooters in recent massacres, including an attack on a Colorado movie theater by a gunman who killed 12 people, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 26 people died.
Gun control activists said they hoped the decision would prompt other major retailers, like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Cabela’s, to ban “Assault Rifles” as well.
In addition to removing rifles from its shelves, Walmart spokesman, Kory Lundberg went further saying the retailer would no longer sell any weapons that accept high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold multiple rounds of ammunition. Mr. Lundberg said:
“It was done purely based on customer demand.” The assault-style sporting rifles, he said, were not “something customers were looking for and buying when they came into our stores.”
The reason given by Walmart is in dispute because firearm background checks for the AK-47 and other rifles under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System – a reliable marker for sales across the industry – have held steady at between five million to just over seven million in recent years.
Arkadi Gerney, a senior vice president at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, admitted that “Sales of rifles are up” and that “people in the industry say is that these assault rifles are an increasing portion of rifle sales.”
Mr. Gerney, best known for working with former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, an anti-gun radical who bankrolls gun control and gun ban groups said:
“In my experience working with Walmart in 2008, I found them to be extremely concerned about responsible gun sales.”
“They definitely wanted to stay in the market and serve customers who wanted to buy guns, but they were very interested and responsive to ideas about how to make those sales safer and to make it less likely that the guns that they sell were ultimately misused.”