Walmart and the parent company of Fred Meyer stores are both asking customers not to openly carry firearms into their stores, even if it’s legal in their state.
Walmart announced that they would be taking the step on Tuesday, and Fred Meyer’s parent company Kroger followed suit.
In a memo to employees, Walmart’s CEO said the policy change comes after people started carrying guns into their stores following the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
“We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results. We hope that everyone will understand the circumstances that led to this new policy and will respect the concerns of their fellow shoppers and our associates,” wrote Walmart CEO Doug McMillon in the memo to employees.
In a statement released to KATU News Wednesday evening, Fred Meyer’s parent company, Kroger, confirmed it will also ask customers not to bring firearms in plain view into its stores.
“Kroger is respectfully asking that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores, other than authorized law enforcement officers. We are also joining those encouraging our elected leaders to pass laws that will strengthen background checks and remove weapons from those who have been found to pose a risk for violence. Our Kroger Purpose is to Feed the Human Spirit and, as America’s grocer, providing our associates and customers with a safe place to work and shop will remain our highest priority,” wrote Jessica Adelman, group vice president of corporate affairs for The Kroger Co.
Those favoring tighter gun laws, like Penny Okamoto of Ceasefire Oregon, applaud the move.
“People are very much questioning guns in our society. We know we have at least 393 million handguns in civilian ownership in the United States,” said Okamoto.
Gun rights advocates, like conservative talk show host Lars Larson, say the move is a mistake.
“Walmart, by poking legitimate, lawful gun owners in the eye, is telling them, ‘We don’t want your business.’ Which I think is a foolish thing to do as a commercial business that wants as many customers as it can get. But it’s also an anti-gun attitude,” said Larson.
Kroger announced in 2018 that it would stop selling firearms and ammunition at its Fred Meyer stores in the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to its request for customers to stop openly carrying guns in its stores, Walmart announced Tuesday that it will stop selling handgun and short-barrel rifle ammunition. The announcement comes after 22 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas on Aug. 3. Following the shooting, two other armed suspects entered Walmarts in Royce City, Texas and Springfield, Mo. They were both taken into custody.
Other businesses including Starbucks, Target, and Wendy’s have also asked customers not to openly carry their guns when they visit their premises.