New York: US retail giant Walmart announced on Thursday that it was raising to 21 its minimum age to buy firearms and ammunition, the latest US company to recalibrate its stance on weapons after a deadly Florida school shooting.
“In light of recent events, we’ve taken an opportunity to review our policy on firearm sales. Going forward, we are raising the age restriction for purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21 years of age," it said in a statement.
“We will update our processes as quickly as possible to implement this change." The retailer said it was also removing from its website items “resembling assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys" but that it would continue to serve “sportsmen and hunters" in a “responsible way".
Walmart said it does not sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines and in 2015 stopped selling the AR-15—the type of gun used by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz in Parkland, Florida. The company also said it goes “beyond federal law by requiring customers to pass a background check before purchasing any firearm."
“The law would allow the sale of a firearm if no response to a background check request has been received within three business days, but our policy prohibits the sale until an approval is given," it added. Yesterday, Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the country’s top sporting goods retailers, also announced it would bar gun sales to any customers under 21 years old and that it would stop selling assault-style rifles.
The US gun industry is suffering a growing corporate backlash in the wake of the 14 February tragedy, with companies cutting ties with the National Rifle Association gun lobbyists that pressure US politicians to prevent any move to restrict gun ownership.