Walmart pulling violent displays, but will continue to sell guns despite pressure

The company sent a directive to its employees.

August 09, 2019, 5:40 PM

In the wake of two mass shootings at an El Paso Walmart and in downtown Dayton last weekend, the superstore has instructed employees to remove marketing material and video displays that include violent imagery from their stores.

The retailer, which has faced intense pressure from Democratic lawmakers and gun control advocates to stop selling guns, will continue to sell firearms.

Walmart employees were told to unplug Xbox and PlayStation consoles that show violent video games and shut off hunting videos hunting videos in the vicinity of where guns are sold, according to the Associated Press, which obtained the company's internal memo.

“Remove from the salesfloor or turn off these items immediately,” the memo said, according to the AP.

PHOTO: Vehicles sit in the parking lot outside a Wal-Mart store in East Peoria, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013.
Vehicles sit in the parking lot outside a Wal-Mart store in East Peoria, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and it does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment," Tara House, a Walmart spokeswoman, said in a statement sent to ABC News. "We are focused on assisting our associates and their families, as well as supporting the community, as we continue a thoughtful and thorough review of our policies.”

The shootings, which together left 31 people dead, have renewed calls for greater limits on gun purchases, including background checks and an assault weapons ban.

On Friday, several Democratic presidential candidates -- Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio -- called on Walmart to stop selling guns.

The retailer is one of the leading sellers of guns and ammunition in the country. In 2015, Walmart said that it would no longer sell high-powered rifles, which were associated with multiple mass shootings, at its U.S. stores.

PHOTO: Guns for sale at a Wal-Mart, July 19, 2000.
Guns for sale at a Wal-Mart, July 19, 2000.
Getty Images

In a statement posted on Twitter, Warren said that Walmart could follow the example of CVS, which stopped selling tobacco products in 2014, a move Warren said had helped reduce cigarette sales nationally.

President Donald Trump and others have called for limits on violent video games on grounds they could increase physical aggression and desensitize some players toward violence.

There is, however, scant evidence of a link between games games and criminally violent behavior.

ABC News' Joshua Hoyos contributed reporting.

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