To appease the Common Council of South Bend Indiana, retail giant Wal-Mart has agreed to stop selling tactical shotguns at a store located on the city’s south side.
The decision was made after members from the Council confronted Wal-Mart executives for violating a 2011 agreement made between the city and the store that placed restrictions on the type of firearms it was allowed to sell.
The agreement said that the South Bend location was only allowed to sell rifles and shotguns used for hunting, no tactical shotguns or handguns.
On Oct. 3, Council Vice President Oliver J. Davis sent a letter to a Wal-Mart attorney arguing that he had received several complaints that the store was selling firearms marked as “tactical shotguns” and that customers had noticed that boxes of ammo were not locked up or secured behind the counter, another violation of the agreement.
In response to the letter, Wal-Mart attorney and senior ATF compliance director Joseph D. Calderon said the store did not believe it was violating the agreement, noting that the tactical shotguns sold at the South Bend location did not fire more rapidly than traditional shotguns.
Nevertheless, and despite this obvious point, Wal-Mart conceded and agreed to remove all guns marketed as tactical and block further shipments of such firearms. Additionally, the store has said it will use video surveillance to ensure that ammo remains locked up at all times.
“We hope that the prompt response to the concern raised by the council indicates to the council that Wal-Mart is in fact a good corporate citizen of South Bend,” Calderon wrote in the response letter.
In a follow-up conference call last Monday between Davis, Common Council attorney Kathleen Cekanski-Farrand and Calderon the parties also agreed to place restrictions on the hours in which firearms can be sold.
Effective immediately, the store will limit sales between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., a concession that was not part of the original agreement
“The whole goal of yesterday was to promote safety,” Davis told the South Bend Tribune in reference to the conference call.
“We are very pleased with how these matters turned out,” Davis added.
There are several points to make here.
For starters, Indiana pre-emption laws make it illegal for local municipalities and city governments to place restrictions on the sale or use of firearms without the state Legislature’s approval.
In other words, the South Bend Common Council is in direct violation of state law.
If Wal-Mart really wanted to, it could simply opt out of the agreement, citing the state’s pre-emption laws, and the Common Council would have no recourse.
The question then is, why don’t they? Why isn’t Wal-Mart choosing to side with gun owners?
Public relations, perhaps?
But that doesn’t really make sense because one has to imagine that the volume of complaints about tactical shotguns and unsecured ammo is dwarfed by the number of people who actually purchase firearms and ammo from the store.
Therefore, it stands to reason that Wal-Mart is leaving money on the table and ignoring a large portion of its customer base to appease a handful of politicians. This is not a very good business model nor is it a way to win the hearts and minds of customers.
Though, whatever the case may be, that’s Wal-Mart’s prerogative. Ultimately, it’s up to them what products they choose to sell.
The good news is we have a choice as well. And for me, that choice is simple: boycott Wal-Mart’s gun sales division. Buy only from local gun shop owners and dealers. This is really the only way to send a message to Wal-Mart executives that what they’re doing is just plain stupid.