Wed 8/7: Walmart is America’s largest gun merchant. It’s time for them to flex that power for good.

So far, our actions on gun control measures have centered on legislation. On Monday, we  asked our senators to return to D.C. to push through universal background check measures. But Sen. McConnell may continue to stall legislation while he stacks the judiciary branch with enough far-right Federal Society sycophants to stop or destroy sensible gun laws for decades. It’s time to reach out to our nation’s largest gun seller, Walmart, and ask them to take steps to protect us, their golden geese. (The basic points of the letter model below is based on this NY Times article.)

Action – Write a letter or email to Walmart executives and tell them to step up to stop the violence!

Dear Mr./Ms. _________________, (address one to each person on the contact list below.)

(Mix it up a little and use your own words if you can. If you’ve been a loyal customer of Walmart, put that in somewhere. Edit the bullet points to those you agree with and add ideas of your own. If you believe their only acceptable course is the complete cessation of gun sales, say that.)

The massacre at your store in El Paso over the weekend was a tragedy. So were the shooting deaths, days earlier, of two Walmart employees, at a Walmart store in Mississippi. So, too, was the mass shooting early Sunday in Dayton, Ohio, as well as the multitude of others in recent years.

We acknowledge you’ve made changes in response to gun violence in the past, as have others. You stopped selling handguns in the 90’s, you stopped selling assault-style rifles in 2015 and like several other smaller retailers, you raised the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21 after the Parkland shootings.  But that’s not enough. One of your employees said “A lot of us are on edge. It’s sad, but I’m looking around the store, thinking, where can I hide if something happens? We’re all afraid we’re going to die.” Workers are calling for strikes.

Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.” We need you, as America’s largest retailer of firearms, to do more. The guns used in last weekend’s carnage did not come from your stores, but they traveled through the same supply chain that you use – banks like Wells Fargo, software companies like Microsoft, and delivery/logistics companies like FedEx and UPSYour unique economic leverage could pressure suppliers, partners, distributors, and even rivals to make changes that would make America safer.

  • Your economic leverage could force gun makers to use more safety measures, such as incorporating fingerprint technology to unlock guns, for example. This would help stop little kids from killing each other accidentally and slow down teen suicides.
  • Your economic leverage could pressure gun makers to sell only to retailers who practice enhanced background checks and utilize the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership 10-pt. system you developed with the Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2008.
  • Your economic leverage over banks that provide financial services to gun makers and gun retailers, as well as credit card companies could make them create processes that track unusual gun and ammunition sales. There is none now. Start by asking JPMorgan Chase. You are an important client to them.
  • Your economic leverage could force Apple to extend its Apple Pay ban for online sales of guns and ammunition to in-store purchases.
  • Your economic leverage could bring repeat offender Wells Fargo Bank to heel by stopping their financing arrangements with your suppliers as long as they remain chief bankers for the NRA. You could also stop taking Wells Fargo credit and debit cards until they break that link.
  • Your economic leverage could influence legislation to require measures for secure storage of guns to keep them out of the hands of kids and teens. Your stores could provide classes on gun safety, or sell gun safes inexpensively or as a requirement for a gun sale.
  • Your economic leverage could influence legislation to implement the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership 10-pt system you developed with the Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2008 throughout the country. (More information from the Trace here.)
  • Your economic leverage could influence other sensible gun legislation like universal background checks, red flag laws and bans on the most dangerous weapons and ammunition systems instead of funding NRA-approved politicians.
  • You could ban gun sales entirely and use the space for toys and educational products. Dicks is now using their extra space for sports-branded products and is doing quite well.

Our legislative efforts are currently stymied by legislators who are owned, ironically,  “lock, stock and barrel” by the NRA. Meanwhile, you hold the power to do more than create a header about how “your heart goes out…” on your website. You can secretly hold tight to the ALEC vision of drowning us in guns and blood for immediate corporate gain, or you can help stop the slow-motion tragedy that’s decimating America. You have the power to safeguard a future for an untold number of lives.

Please be brave. Please step up.

Sincerely,

______________________________________________

Contact information

Send a copy of your letter. snail-mail or email, changing addressee names, to each of the people on this list. 

Primary Contact
Mark Ibbotson
Executive Vice President of Central Operations, Walmart U.S.
702 SW 8th St
Bentonville, AR 72716
Mark.Ibbotson@wal-mart.com

Secondary Contact
Janey Whiteside
Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Walmart U.S.
702 SW 8th St
Bentonville, AR 72716
Janey.Whiteside@wal-mart.com

Greg Foran
President and Chief Executive Officer of Walmart U.S.
702 SW 8th St
Bentonville, AR 72716
Greg.Foran@wal-mart.com

Chief Executive
Doug McMillon
President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
702 SW 8th St
Bentonville, AR 72716
Doug.McMillon@wal-mart.com

Main: (479) 273-4000
Toll Free: (800) 925-6278

Additional contact info for Walmart Executive Office: executive.communications@wal-mart.com

Walmart Executive Escalations:CACSSEE@wal-mart.com

Background

Advertisement from before 2015

bushmaster

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, was an avid hunter. He opened his flagship store in Bentonville, Ark., specifically so he could be close to his in-laws’ quail-hunting ranch and stocked it with equipment that other hunters would need, including guns. He was such a devout fan of Remington shotguns that the gunmaker issued a commemorative model in his name after he died. Through an up (during Obama’s terms) and down history, Walmart remains the largest gun seller in the nation, selling guns in about half of its roughly 4,750 supercenters, even while gradually eliminating certain types of firearms.

The company stopped selling handguns (except in Alaska) in nearly all its stores years ago and in August of 2015, they announced that they would stop the sale of the military-style rifles, semi-automatic shotguns and other firearms commonly used in mass shootings, as a response to the massacres at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Colorado theater shootings. Up to that time, they carried five high-powered military-style weapons as well as the hollow point bullets that cause extensive damage by expanding inside their targets. The Bushmaster AR-15, the gun carried by Adam Lanza to murder children at Sandy Hook Elementary School was on sale at over 1700 Walmart stores.

After the mass school shooting in Parkland in 2018, Walmart began requiring all gun buyers be at least 21 years of age, regardless of local laws. Last month, Walmart stopped selling guns in its stores in New Mexico after the state expanded its law on background checks.

Although Walmart professes to always respect local laws and ordinances in gun sales, they have not always been the best neighbor. In 2005, CA’s attorney general, Bill Lockyer, charged them with thousands of state gun law violations—including selling to people that the AG’s office had notified Walmart were prohibited from owning firearms; delivering guns to customers before they passed a background check; and sometimes even failing to ascertain a customer’s identity. The company settled the suit for $14.5 million.

Walmart is infamous for their lax oversight of their weapon and ammunition stocks, by untrained personnel. “In some ZIP codes, Walmart is a significant driver of crime rates,” said David C. Pyrooz, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado who was the co-author of a 2014 study analyzing the stores’ impact on local crime.

Some of the gun crime didn’t even make it past their own property lines. The site “Walmart Shootings” compiled lists of gun-related crimes from 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. In the week before the El Paso shooting, at least three people were killed at Walmart stores across the nation, including two employees who, officials said, were shot by a former colleague at the store in Southaven, Miss.

This gun thing, it’s really just a nightmare,” says Bertha Lewis, president of the Black Institute, which had been organizing Walmart workers in 2012 to protest wages and working conditions. Given its aggressive gun sales, Walmart’s logo “shouldn’t be a smiley face; it should be an automatic weapon,” she added.

In addition to selling dangerous weaponry, Walmart contributed to lobbying efforts to change state gun laws and make the possession and use of firearms even easier. It was one of the key backers of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) when the oligarchic group aggressively pushed “stand your ground” laws in states across the country. These laws have proven to be a clear threat to public safety, with no evidence that they deter crime. They were also behind efforts to allow students to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. (Walmart has since dropped out of ALEC under public pressure.)

(“The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a far right ‘think tank’ that originated in the 1970s, primarily in opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and laws governing corporate income taxes. Now largely controlled by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, ALEC provides “model” conservative and pro-corporate legislation to state houses. For more information, see journalist Jane Mayer’s Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.”)

Open-carry gun laws in Texas, make it possible for both Walmart shoppers and shooters, at the store in El Paso and other stores around the state, to carry firearms openly. “It adds to the chaos,’’ said Shannon Watts, a founder of Moms Demand Action. “If someone is openly carrying in Walmart, how does anyone know who the bad guy is or who the good guy is? How do you know if that’s a police officer or someone who intends to do you harm?

“We have worked very, very hard to be a responsible gun seller, and we have tried a number of things to support that mission,” Walmart spokesperson Mr. Hargrove said. “That is our focus as we go forward.”

Walmart, you still have a lot to make up for. Go forward from now and put the public first.

Corporate America responses to gun violence

Corporate responses can have high impact. Below is a partial list of companies that have either cut ties with the NRA, or have stopped carrying guns and related products. Some, like the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, did it from a deep sense of conviction that their companies needed to take part in positive change. Others have ceased gun or NRA-related business because of consumer boycotts or threatened boycotts.

  • Salesforce has stopped working with retailers that sell automatic and certain semiautomatic firearms, high-capacity magazines for ammunition and a wide variety of accessories.
  • Ed Stack of Dick’s Sporting Goods removed assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines at his stores and banned all gun sales to people under the age of 21 after the 2018 Parkland shooting.
  • Bank of America  said it would end financing for all companies that produce military-style firearms for civilians. It is currently trying to exit a deal with Remington.
  • Chubb, an insurance provider stopped underwriting a NRA insurance policy for “self-defense” shootings by gun owners after Parkland.
  • Citigroup now require clients to adhere to certain rules regarding gun sales. Retailers must mandate background checks for gun sales, adhere to a 21-and-over age limit and end the sale of bump stocks or high-capacity magazines.
  • Cloudflare will not longer provide web services and support to 8chan, the online message board where the El Paso domestic terrorist posted his manifesto.
  • Hertz, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise ended rental-car company discount programs for NRA members.
  • Kroger said in 2018 that it would enact a 21-and-over age limit on gun sales at Fred Meyer locations.
  • Levi Straus CEO Chip Bergh, has called for stronger gun control regulations and said the company would donate $1 million to activists.
  • L.L. Bean, which only sells guns at its flagship store in Maine, said in March 2018 that it would stop selling firearms and ammunition to people under age 21.
  • Symantec ended a discount program on identity theft software for NRA members.
  • Fedex no longer offers a discount to members of the NRA. (Statement on assault rifles)
  • Delta Airlines ended NRA discounted travel rates for the NRA’s group travel program.
  • United Airlines no longer offers discounted rates to the NRA’s annual meeting.
  • Allied Van Lines discontinued its discount program with the NRA
  • MetLife discontinued its NRA discounts program.
  • Best Western no longer offers discounts to NRA members.
  • First National Bank of Omaha no longer offers an NRA Visa card.
  • UPS has stated that they are not a sponsor of the NRA and do not offer members discounts. Their website also included this interesting TEDtalk.

 

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