The availability of guns at Walmart has become a hotly debated issue in the wake of two deadly shootings at its stores that killed 24 people.
More than 128,000 people have signed a petition urging Walmart to stop selling guns and take a stronger stance against firearms since the shootings at stores in El Paso, Texas, and Southaven, Mississippi. But the company has said it has no plans to stop selling them.
I went to Walmart with the intention of buying a gun last week as part of an investigation into the placement, selection, marketing, and security of firearms in Walmart’s stores, and to learn more about the retailer’s processes governing gun sales.
My journey to bring a gun home from Walmart turned out to be far more complicated than I expected.
I hit a roadblock before I even left the house.
Walmart has said that about half of its 4,700 US stores sell guns.
I searched Walmart.com and Google on August 13 to find out which of the 10 Walmart stores near me sold guns, and I failed to come up with any definitive answers.
The only guns advertised on Walmart’s website are air guns. After about 30 minutes, I gave up on searching the internet and turned to the phone.
I figured that employees at any one of Walmart’s stores near me would know which locations sold guns.
Over an hour and a half, I placed more than a dozen calls to multiple stores, waited on hold for a combined 40 minutes, and got through to a human only three times. Three Walmart employees told me they didn’t know which stores sold guns in the area.
One person referred me to Walmart’s main customer-service line. I called that number and spoke with someone who said he also couldn’t help me.
“When it comes to item availability, they don’t want us to discuss that because of various reasons,” he said. Continue reading “I tried to buy a gun at Walmart twice, and roadblocks left me empty-handed both times”