Walmart announced last week that the sale of certain types of ammunition and remaining handguns will be stopped.
“We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand,” Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, said in company press release.
This press release came only days after the Odessa, Texas, shooting that took the lives of seven people and injured 22 more, and a few weeks after shootings at Walmart stores in Southaven, Miss., and El Paso, Texas. “It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,” McMillon wrote. “In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again.”
According to the release, Walmart will eliminate short-barrel rifle (like the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber) and handgun ammunition sales, and handgun sales in Alaska will be stopped — the last state where handgun sales at the company were still permitted. Handguns haven’t been sold at Walmarts outside of Alaska since the 1990s.
Additionally, customers are asked not to open carry firearms within Walmart’s stores, with the exception of “authorized law enforcement officers.”
With Walmart’s elimination of specific ammunition sales — “[a]fter selling through [their] current inventory commitments” — what does this mean for mom-and-pop firearm and ammunition shops? In the press release, McMillon said, “We believe these actions will reduce our market share of ammunition from around 20% to a range of approximately 6 to 9%.” It might be too early to know exactly who will pick up what percentage of the decrease in market share, but some small businesses in Southern Maryland have their predictions.
Gun Monkey’s Armory in Charles County was founded in 2014 and is owned by Anthony Cooper, a former gunner’s mate in the Navy. Twenty-five percent of his sales come from ammunition, Cooper said, and with Walmart’s new policy, “We expect that to, you know, increase substantially.”
Aaron Coulby, who has 20 years of Marine Corps infantry experience, works at Gun Monkey’s Armory and is also the owner of Firearms Training Incorporated. Although he doesn’t see Walmart’s new policy affecting his business, Coulby said he does “think it’ll help businesses like Anthony [Cooper]’s in the long run because they gotta go somewhere to get [ammunition].”
Gun Monkey’s Armory, which opened a storefront in La Plata two years ago, sells both in store and online with a collection that includes firearms and ammunition for hunting, sporting and personal defense, Cooper said.
Across the river in Calvert lies 10-X Firearms, co-owned by Chuck Early. The store sells “a little bit of anything and everything,” Early said. “As long as its legal to own, we’ll deal with it.” In regards to Walmart’s new policy, Early said he thinks his sales “may go up a little bit,” but that it won’t have a dramatic affect. “I think the largest majority of the ammunition that’s moving within the Southern Maryland area is probably coming from online purchases,” he said. Why? “Ease of hassle and choice of variety” as well as price, he added.
Early’s thoughts on the new policy are simple: “To each their own,” he said. “My main concern is making sure that my customers are taken care of and whatever other potential future customers I may gain … from any other kind of changes in the future.”
The 10-X Firearms store sells firearms and ammunition at its Prince Frederick storefront and does not have an online store.
The vice president of sales for Gym Ratz, John M Catalano II, also thinks there won’t be much of a change in sales at his shop. “It’s less outlets and the only place around here would be like Dick’s Sporting Goods or the local shop,” he said, “so people that are local here would shop locally to pick up ammo instead of driving, you know, 40 minutes, 30 minutes away if the price is right. If not, they’ll shop it online.”
Gym Ratz has been open since 2014 but began selling firearms in 2016. The St. Mary’s-based firearm, ammunition and nutrition shop has a shopfront and an online store. Ammunition bought online can only be purchased locally and must be picked up at its Mechanicsville store after ordering.
Traversing in a new direction, Walmart will focus its “remaining assortment” on “the needs of hunting and sport shooting enthusiasts,” McMillon said in the release.
“We have a long heritage as a company of serving responsible hunters and sportsmen and women, and we’re going to continue doing so,” he continued. “We understand that heritage, our deeply rooted place in America and our influence as the world’s largest retailer. And we understand the responsibility that comes with it. We want what’s best for our customers, our associates and our communities.”