Walmart, Fred Meyer Restrict Gun Sales to Buyers 21 and Older

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Walmart, Fred Meyer Restrict Gun Sales to Buyers 21 and Older

The Parkland, Fla., gunman used an AR-15, which Walmart and Fred Meyer no longer sell in their stores

In the wake of deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., carried out by a 19-year-old gunman, which has led to calls for stricter laws governing the purchase of firearms, Walmart Inc. and Fred Meyer have raised the minimum age at which customers can buy firearms and ammunition in their stores to 21.

In a statement, the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer said that it would “update [its] processes as quickly as possible to implement this change.

The company further noted that it ended sales of modern sporting rifles in 2015, including the AR-15, the weapon used by the Parkland shooter, and doesn’t carry handguns, except in Alaska. Additionally, Walmart doesn’t sell bump stocks, high-capacity magazines and similar accessories.

As for online sales of guns, the company observed that it had “a process to monitor our ecommerce marketplace and ensure our policies are applied.” The retailer will also remove items from its website that resemble assault-style rifles, among them nonlethal airsoft guns and toys.

Seeking to assuage consumer concerns, Walmart continued: “We take seriously our obligation to be a responsible seller of firearms and go beyond federal law by requiring customers to pass a background check before purchasing any firearm. The law would allow the sale of a firearm if no response to a background check request has been received within three business days, but our policy prohibits the sale until an approval is given.”

The company was also at pains to reassure gun owners, asserting: “Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way.”

“In response to the tragic events in Parkland and elsewhere, we’ve taken a hard look at our policies and procedures for firearm sales,” noted a statement from The Kroger Co., parent company of Fred Meyer, whose headquarters is in Portland, Ore. “Recent events demonstrate the need for additional action on the part of responsible gun retailers. We are raising the minimum age to 21 to purchase firearms and ammunition in all of our Fred Meyer locations that sell firearms.”

The Cincinnati-based grocer added that it stopped selling assault-style rifles at Fred Meyer stores in Oregon, Washington and Idaho "several years ago," and no longer accepts any special orders of such weapons in Alaska. 

Moreover, under the Restock Kroger initiative, "we have a robust space optimization effort underway in many of our stores, including Fred Meyer locations," Kroger said. "As we refresh stores, we are often transitioning gun departments due to softer demand and changing customer preferences."

According to the company, "We believe these are commonsense steps we can take immediately that are in line with our values and our vision."

Walmart and Fred Meyer are the second and third major retailers to restrict gun sales to customers who are at least 21, after Coraopolis, Pa.-based Dick’s Sporting Goods, which also ended sales of all assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines at its stores.

In related news, Eugene, Ore.-based Bi-Mart also revealed that it’s raising the minimum age for purchasing firearms and ammunition to 21 in its namesake stores as well as locations it operates under the Cascade Farm and Outdoor banners. The company, which has 77 stores in Oregon, Washington and Idaho and carries groceries and personal care items as well as auto supplies, clothing, electronics, furniture and other general merchandise, said that it has never sold AK or AR rifles or bump stocks, and that it doesn’t offer high-capacity magazines.

"Our goal is to support responsible firearm use and make a positive contribution to the local, regional and national discussion of this issue," the company noted in a statement quoted in the Portland Business Journal.