Walmart is raising the minimum age for buying its firearms and ammunition to 21, becoming the latest company to change policies connected to guns in the wake of the mass shooting at a high school in Florida earlier this month.
The company, which is the largest single seller of guns in the United States, said on Wednesday it will also remove from its e-commerce site toys that look like assault-style rifles. Earlier in the day, Dick’s Sporting Goods, (DKS) a major firearms retailer, said it would stop selling assault-style rifles such as the AR-15 that was used in the Florida massacre, and would raise the minimum age to buy any guns to 21 years.
“We take seriously our obligation to be a responsible seller of firearms,” Walmart said in a statement. The company, which operates 4,600 U.S. stores, had stopped selling the AR-15 and other rifles in 2015 and doesn’t sell handguns except in Alaska. Walmart also does not sell accessories such as bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.
The Florida shootings set up demonstrations and renewed debate that has raged ever since. A number of corporations, including Delta Air Lines and Hertz, have distanced themselves from the National Rifle Association by ending rebates offered to members even at the risk of offending part of their customer base.
While Walmart (WMT) years ago faced intense criticism for selling firearms and has been working to update its business and image, it said in its statement that it was going beyond what federal law required when it comes to background checks. While the government allows the sale of a firearm if there has been no response to a background check within three business days, Walmart says it waits until an approval comes, regardless of how long it takes.
The changes come even as U.S gun sales are slipping. For full year 2017, background checks by the FBI, a proxy for gun sales, fell 8.4% from the previous year, to 25.3 million.