Walmart has swiftly and quietly put an end to the sale of AR-15-style rifles including guns chambered for .22 Long Rifle that resemble ARs. The company is also phasing out shotguns with shorter barrels and magazine capacities of seven or more rounds, selling off remaining stock at steep discounts.
The company has, on multiple occasions, stated that this is not due to political pressure, rather, that the sales of “tactical” firearms has dropped, and as hunting seasons near nation-wide Walmart is moving towards stocking traditional-looking hunting rifles and shotguns.
“It’s a business decision and a decision made by our customers request we sell more traditional guns and accessories,” a Walmart representative told The Firearm Blog. “In order to expand our offerings of traditional guns we had to make more space and discontinue guns that were not selling. This is really about providing our customers with what they want to purchase.”
Only about a third of Walmart stores carry firearms and if the ARs don’t sell, they’re literally taking up space. The company is also discontinuing the sale of accessories for the guns they no longer support, along with anything that’s marketed towards self-defense.
“Our merchandising decisions are driven largely by customer demand,” said company spokesman Kory Lundberg to Forbes. “In our everyday course of doing business, we are continually reviewing and adjusting our product assortment to meet our customers’ needs.”
In the wake of calls for increased gun control after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting as well as the Aurora theater shooting demand for ARs and other semi-automatic rifles and shotguns shot through the roof, and companies responded by dramatically increasing production. Now buyers can find these guns at incredibly low prices everywhere.
Combined with advancements in the AR world it’s easy to paint a picture of Walmart lagging behind the competition. Still, there has been significant pressure from internal and external sources.
Earlier this year U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) demanded that Wal-Mart stop selling AR rifles during the recent flag debate. They also won a key legal victory against their own shareholders looking to force the company to stop selling these guns.