I don’t shop at Walmart. I made that choice back in the 1980s when the company’s growth model called for it to sweep into small towns and destroy the local mom & pop businesses to make shopping at Walmart the only game in town and/or county. I liked the diversity of small businesses in rural America and mourned their destruction, and so I didn’t support Walmart.
Over the decades many more reasons to avoid Walmart bubbled to the surface. By the late 1990s it was clear that the company had a tendency to buy cheaply built products/garments that were often manufactured in sweatshops. Labor and environment problems at their stores, warehouses and throughout their supply chain were also common place. In the wake of some bad publicity, Walmart has paid some lip service to putting in a code of conduct for their suppliers and have been spreading some cash around to green-wash their act. But as of just a few weeks ago, workers sewing clothes for the company are still dying in fires caused by greed, safety violations and locked fire escapes. Walmart’s ongoing use of Sweatshop labor is one example, but the company has many other social justice and environmental problems embedded in their supply chain and the way they do business.
Walmart is all about profits and downshifting to costs to others. Which explains why they treat their workers so poorly (something exposed by the recent Black Friday protests). In Walmart’s business plan anything goes–even bribery–if it will help their bottom line. So it is not a surprise that they turned to sales of automatic weapons and ammo as a way to keep their profits up during a recession. In fact, Walmart has made the Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle the most popular assault weapon in America. No wonder that the AR-15 has become the gun of choice for so many mass murderers–Walmart makes it easy to buy at everyday low prices.
Wingnut conspiracy theories and hatred of a Black President led to an increase in gun and ammo sales. Walmart saw an opportunity for profit and aggressively jumped into assault weapons market. The Nation has the details:
The expansion of gun sales at Walmart came after a five-year slowdown. In 2006, the chain announced that it was rolling gun sales back, citing declining profit margins on the relatively expensive weapons, which even at Walmart can retail for hundreds of dollars. But in 2011, company executives were looking at eight straight quarters of declining sales at stores open for a year or more—the worst slump in Walmart’s history.
They must also have noticed that Barack Obama’s inauguration had sparked a rally in gun sales, which have steadily increased every year since 2008. The government isn’t allowed to track firearm sales, but the FBI does release figures on how many retailers ask it to run background checks—a relatively reliable indicator of total gun sales, although likely a lowball estimate, since a person can buy multiple guns on a single background check, and many gun shows aren’t required to perform such checks. In 2007, retailers asked the FBI for just over 11 million background checks; by the end of 2009, 14 million checks were requested—a 27 per- cent increase.
In April 2011, Walmart began stocking guns in more and more stores, expanding the sales to 1,750 outlets nationwide…
There is more and I encourage folks to read the article.
Walmart is part of the problem. Greed has them pushing these semi-automatic weapons and increasing the ease with which any crazy person can get one into their hands (and extra ammo on the way to a shooting). I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn that the weapons and/or ammo used in this latest tragedy were purchased at Walmart (and at everyday low prices).
A national boycott of Walmart until they remove the assault weapons and ammo from all their stores would not be an irrational response to this most recent shooting.