Walmart to stop selling semi-automatic rifles

© Kevork Djansezian
America’s top retailer of guns and ammunition, Walmart, will stop selling semi-automatic rifles, including the AR-15, because of sluggish demand.

It’s about what customers are buying and what they’re not,” said Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg on Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Lundberg said the decision to stop selling the AR-15 and other semiautomatic rifles was months in the making and based on shifting demand from shoppers. The guns are currently sold in less than a third of the company’s 4,500 US stores.

Instead, the company will focus on “hunting and sportsmen firearms.”

Walmart said the decision was unrelated to recent high-profile mass killings that featured the AR-15, such as when Adam Lanza used the weapon in killing 26 students and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, or when James Holmes used one in an attack that killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado in 2012.

Gun dealers say the AR-15 is the most popular rifle in the US because it is lightweight, durable, accurate, and has a magazine feed. It was first built for the US armed forces, as were the M-16 and M-4, and then adapted for civilian use.

Gun control advocates contend that semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 are a logical choice for anyone whose goal is to kill a large number of people in a short amount of time because of their ability to rapidly fire multiple high-velocity rounds.

The people we’re talking about, once they get into ‘I want to kill a lot of people,’ it’s not a leap for them to see that these guns are made and designed for war,” Tom Diaz, a senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, told the Seattle Times.

And if you look at the industry advertising, that is a consistent theme.