Walmart and Gun Violence: Who’s Responsible?

Abbigail Jackson, Writer

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Walmart sells inventory ranging from clothing and food to household products and games. Some locations, about half of all Wal-marts, even sell guns. 

After the tragic massacre took place in El Paso, Texas at a Walmart on August 3rd, 2019, Wal-mart decided to make changes, but the changes weren’t what some expected. As for training, the company had already implemented active shooter trainings prior to the shooting.  These trainings were delivered during employee orientation and then quarterly, but the training was computer-based or through virtual reality. There seem to be no changes in employee training. The El Paso Wal-mart had no security guard during daytime hours in spite of serving approximately 3000 customers a day, and a company spokesperson said there were no company plans to require security guards nationally. Some hoped Wal-mart would stop selling guns after the incident. For example, Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling guns and saw an increase in sales. Instead of stopping the sale of guns, Wal-mart decided to make changes to video games displays. Though they will still sell violent video games, they will pull violent game posters, live game displays, and promo materials that might be insensitive. Most Bob Jones students polled did not feel this was an effective deterrent to gun violence. The CEO of Wal-mart did voice support for stronger background checks.

What is a company’s role in responding to gun violence? This is a difficult question to answer when the American society is divided in its opinions on gun violence and accessibility. These divided opinions were reflected in a survey of Bob Jones students. 

David Reynolds, a junior at Bob Jones, shared, “Someone once said that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. A gun is a tool. It’s who uses the tool is who is dangerous. A vast majority of Americans who own guns use it for self-defense, not for murder.”

Senior Shiyeon Ku shared, “I am very offended that a weapon, a mechanism that can physically harm others very easily, can be carried around in a public location just because of the thought of ‘it is my right to do so.’ While I believe in self-defense and protecting oneself, I do not believe in threatening others and the emotional security just to put one’s right over one’s security. The protective environment is formed by lawful and regulated control from the law enforcement, not some idiot carrying around a killing machine at a Walmart.”  

Xander Hill, a senior at Bob Jones, said, “It’s not the guns we need to worry about, as the restrictions already in place are sufficient, rather it’s a social problem dealing with the youth (all backgrounds) and social mindset that is shared with a few groups of people, especially concerning mental health.”

Shiyeon Ku, a senior, said, “I see this issue as an epidemic of a population that decides to not face the direct problem. The causation of many mass shootings and school shootings are a result of rapid and easy access to the weapon. While it is possible that a psychological approach to the problem could lessen the harm, it is not the solution that could prevent gun shootings. Since you can’t control people, you at least need to control what they can and can’t have.” 

Though a company does have responsibilities to provide a safe environment for shopping, it is still just a company. The citizens of our society need to explore these varying viewpoints and work together to find common ground in order to solve a problem; we can’t shift the blame or the responsibility to a company. It’s Wal-Mart, not the White House or even a Target.