After recent deadly shootings at its stores in Texas and Mississippi, Walmart is ordering its employees to temporarily remove any signing or displays that advertise violent video games — but the company won’t be removing guns from sale.
“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and it does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment,” said spokesperson Tara House in an email to BuzzFeed News.
Walmart distributed a memo to employees detailing immediate actions that must be taken, emphasizing that signage or displays that “contain violent images or aggressive behavior” or “shooter video games” must be taken down.
An image of the memo, which BuzzFeed News has confirmed is authentic, has been posted on Twitter and Reddit.
The action is being taken after a string of violent incidents at Walmart stores in recent days.
On July 30, two Walmart employees were fatally gunned down in Southaven, Mississippi, by a disgruntled coworker who had recently been fired. Four days later, another shooting occurred at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22. That incident is currently being investigated as a hate crime.
A shooting scare also occurred at a Walmart in Baton Rouge on Tuesday, after two men arguing at a customer service counter pulled guns on each other, causing a frenzy among customers who believed there was a shootout. And on Thursday, a man was arrested at a Missouri Walmart after he sparked mass panic by walking through the aisles wearing body armor and carrying weapons.
Walmart, one of the largest sellers of firearms and ammunition in the United States, is removing the video game displays, but taking no action in response to its gun and ammunition sales. A company spokesperson told Bloomberg on Sunday that Walmart had no plans to stop selling the weapons.
When asked why these changes weren’t being implemented, House stated in an email to BuzzFeed News, “We are focused on assisting our associates and their families, as well as supporting the community, as we continue a thoughtful and thorough review of our policies.”
In light of the recent shootings, Walmart has been faced with an increasing amount of pressure to stop selling guns.
On Friday, Parkland survivor and prominent March for Our Lives activist Emma González urged followers to boycott the store. “There’s nothing else to say,” she wrote. “Fuck Walmart.”
Still others, including Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, have called on the company to stop selling guns.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote in a LinkedIn post earlier this week the company was considering how to respond to the tragedies.
“We are a learning organization, and, as you can imagine, we will work to understand the many important issues that arise from El Paso and Southaven, as well as those that have been raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence,” he said.
“We will be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses,” he added, “and we will act in a way that reflects the best values and ideals of our company, with a focus on serving the needs of our customers, associates and communities.”
Walmart is not the only one with a focus on video games after the tragedies.
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence,” Trump said.
He did not pin any blame on the guns themselves, instead saying, “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”