Customers enter a Walmart store in San Leandro, California, on Tuesday. Justin Sullivan/AFP
Walmart Inc, the nation's largest retailer, said on Tuesday it would stop selling ammunition for handguns and some assault-style rifles in all its stores across the United States, and called for action on gun safety after a string of mass shootings, including at Walmart stores in Texas and Mississippi.
Walmart also called for a strengthening of background checks for gun buyers and action to take guns out of the hands of those who pose a risk of violence, which was followed by an almost identical message from grocery operator Kroger Co.
Both Walmart and Kroger, which exited the firearms and ammunition business last year when its Fred Meyer unit stopped such sales, said they are now asking customers not to bring guns into their stores, even when allowed by local laws.
The two retailers are among a growing number of U.S. companies, such as Delta Air Lines and Bank of America , that are responding to the debate over guns and gun safety as mass shootings have proliferated, risking backlash from powerful gun owners' groups while elected leaders consider options.
"It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable," Walmart's chief executive officer, Doug McMillon, said in a letter to employees. "As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same."
Kroger, in a statement from corporate affairs vice president Jessica Adelman, spoke about "the growing chorus of Americans who are no longer comfortable with the status quo and who are advocating for concrete and common sense gun reforms."
Kroger said it was "joining those encouraging our elected leaders to pass laws" on background checks and keeping firearms out of the hands of those at risk for violence.
McMillon said Walmart's decision follows his visit to El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 6, three days after a gunman went on a rampage at a Walmart store there, killing 22 people.
Walmart Inc said it would stop selling ammunition for handguns and some assault-style rifles in all its stores across the United States. McMillon in the letter described himself as a gun owner and said that company founder Sam Walton was "an avid outdoorsman who had a passion for quail hunting."
Walmart will stop selling handgun sales in Alaska, the only state where it still sells hand guns. The halt on the ammunition and handgun sales will come into effect when current inventory is sold out.
Kroger had sold guns in 43 of its Fred Meyer stores in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska before announcing in March 2018 that it would exit the firearms business.
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