Local Gun Dealers, Residents React to Walmart Decision to Discontinue Some Ammo Sales, Discourage Open-Carry

JEFFERSON CO., Pa. (EYT) – The nation’s top retailer has decided to make some changes in store policies that have resulted in mixed reactions.

(Photos by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography)

In a statement released on Tuesday, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon announced a new plan to stop the sale of several specific types of ammunition after its current stock sells out.

According to the statement, Walmart will discontinue sales of all handgun ammunition as well as short-barrel rifle ammunition, including .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber which, while commonly used in certain hunting rifles, is also sometimes used in high capacity clips on what the statement refers to as “military-style weapons.”

The statement notes the retail giant is also asking customers not to open carry firearms in stores in states where open carry is permitted.

McMillon noted in the statement that he came to the decision after visiting El Paso, where a gunman with a rifle shot 48 people in a Walmart store, resulting in the death of 22 of those people.

“We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand. As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” McMillon said in the statement.

Locally, reactions to the announcement have been mixed.

Joel Thomas, owner of Xtreme Shooting Sports in DuBois, noted that while he doesn’t agree with Walmart’s decision, he knows it will help small businesses like his in the end.

“I don’t agree with what they’re doing in caving to the pressure,” Thomas said.

“It comes down to a social issue. It’s not the guns and the ammunition, it’s the people that are using them. They (Walmart) just seem to be following the cries and getting on the bandwagon, but it’s going to end up helping gun shops, in general, increase their sales.”

“I would hope this will help us, give us a shot in the arm in terms of our ammo sales because that will be one less place people can go to get it. And everyone goes to Walmart for something, so it was easy to just pick up ammunition while you were there. Now they’ve got to come to a local shop for guns and ammunition.”

Some local residents echoed some of the same sentiment.

“This is just my opinion, but many years ago when Walmart started selling guns and ammo for a reduced price, it took sales away from small gun shops. Many went out of business because of it. Now maybe the huge sales will come back to the small shop,” noted Jean Miller.

“This will probably be better for locally-owned gun shops in the long run, so it will benefit local communities,” Josie Smelko said.

Corey Botelho, who runs Tri-Force Tactical, a local tactical training group out of New Bethlehem, said the announcement was no surprise to him.

“Guns are not the issue, the people willing to do anything to get rid of them, even cause mass shootings to place blame and to push an agenda, are the reason they are needed,” Botelho told ExploreVenango.com.

“Walmart has the right to do as they please, as I have the right never to step foot in Walmart again. Go to your local gun shops!”

Like Botelho, some others are upset with Walmart’s decision and pledging not to shop there.

“Being a new owner of a permit to carry, I will no longer shop at Walmart,” said Kelly Carnahan.

“Walmart just hurt their business! I will now shop for groceries at Martins,” David Lindholm said.

“They lost what little business we gave them in the first place,” said Curtis Barrett.

Others are more pragmatic about the decision.

“Any retail business has the right to decide what items they will offer for sale. People will still shop there regardless,” noted Lucy Heitzenrater.

“Personally I could care less, it’s their business to run how they want. People will still shop at Walmart,” Randy Walter noted.

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