Walgreens, Wegmans and CVS are the latest nationwide retail chains to make the request after Walmart on Wednesday ― and Kroger soon after ― asked customers not to do so, even in so-called open carry states that allow the practice. Walmart’s request came with an announcement that the nation’s largest retailer would stop selling handgun ammunition and “short-barrel rifle ammunition.”
Walmart’s decision came on the heels of a mass shooting inside an El Paso, Texas, store in early August that left 22 people dead. That same week, an employee who had been suspended shot and killed two co-workers in a Mississippi Walmart where he worked.
“As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a memo to employees on Tuesday.
The week after the El Paso shooting, police arrested an armed man who caused chaos when he walked into a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, while wearing body armor and military-style clothing. The same week, a man calling himself an “anti-gun activist” was questioned by police after he asked a clerk in a Florida Walmart for a gun that would “kill 200 people.”
Hours after Walmart’s announcement, Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery chain, followed with its own request asking customers not to openly carry.
“Kroger has demonstrated with our actions that we recognize the growing chorus of Americans who are no longer comfortable with the status quo and who are advocating for concrete and common sense gun reforms,” Kroger said in a statement.
Walmart said the policy would not be enforced, but that management is instructed to contact law enforcement if they feel threatened.
“It’s a respectful request,” Walmart spokesperson Ragan Dickens told HuffPost. “And if they do not listen to the request, we’ve asked management to evaluate each situation. If an individual is a potential threat, the manager on duty can contact law enforcement.”
It’s not clear how other stores will enforce the new policies, but Kris Brown of advocacy group Brady United told CNN that the move by Walmart is “telling the NRA that logic does not support what they’ve been saying — this ‘good guy with a gun’ idea is patently false.”
HuffPost has reached out to all of the retailers for comment on how they plan to enforce the policies, if at all.
This story has been updated with comment from Walmart.