Rural King bucks trend as some retailers move toward gun-free stores

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By Cory Higgs

Walmart joined a growing list of retailers – Kroger, Walgreens and CVS among them – asking customers to refrain from carrying guns in their stores, even if state laws allow for open carry.

The company also will no longer stock certain gun ammunition and is ceasing the sale of handguns in its Alaskan based stores, according to its CEO Doug McMillon.

“We are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where ‘open carry’ is permitted,” McMillon said. The only individuals allowed to carry in their stores are law enforcement personnel.

McMillon said that all stores nationwide will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber. The ammo is most commonly used in hunting rifles, it can also be loaded into automatic weapons, he added. The move means that current stock will remain in-stores until purchased, but the retailer has no plans of restocking those items.

When announcing the changes, McMillon noted that “a month ago, in El Paso, Texas, a gunman with an assault-style rifle launched a hate-filled attack in our store, shooting 48 people resulting in the loss of 22 innocent lives. Just a few days prior, two of our associates were killed by another associate in our store in Southaven, Mississippi. And hours after the shooting in El Paso, our country experienced another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. This weekend brought tragedy to Midland and Odessa, Texas,” he said.

With the number of mass shooting approaching the 300 mark, some retailers are also are pushing lawmakers to enact policies and change.

As of September 1, there have been 283 mass shooting in the United States, according to online reports.

“It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable,” McMillon said.

Kroger and others also customers not to bring their weapons into stores. Kroger affiliated stores “Fred Meyers” in the Pacific Northwest, also stopped selling firearms and ammunition, however Kroger doesn’t have a protocol in place at this time in handling their request for costumers to cease bringing firearms into its 2,500 nationwide stores.

Retailers said customers who do open carry may expect to be asked in a non-confrontational way not to carry a weapon in the store.

Rural King stores is at the other end of the spectrum, writing on their social media page that they would not ‘bow’ to pressures to discontinue their sales of firearms and ammunition.

“Many rural Americans are defenders and supporters of our rights and the 2nd Amendment. We at Rural King is proud to stand with these Americans to protect and defend our freedoms,” a letter posted to the company’s social media page stated, adding that “Rural King will continue to sell firearms lawfully in all our stores.”