The massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio over this past summer are all too familiar: a young white man with an assault rifle enters a public place and targets innocent people. How do we get ourselves out of this vicious cycle of violence?
It’s clear after these past shootings that we no longer can afford to wait on the government for common-sense gun legislation. The government has seemingly put the NRA’s money over American lives, and although this clearly needs to change, we also need a more immediate plan of action to save innocent lives.
One solution comes in an unlikely place: large retail businesses. After the deadly shooting in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas that killed 24 people, Walmart decided to discontinue all sales of handguns and ammunition. This has had a huge impact on the gun control movement. Walmart is the biggest retail store in America and is one of the largest sellers of guns and ammunition in the world. The NRA constantly uses its money to push candidates who reject gun control into seats of power, but the more billion-dollar companies, like Walmart, who restrict gun sales, the more right-wing politicians will struggle to stop these companies with government policies.
Walmart isn’t the only large retailer to push for gun control in the U.S. Dick’s Sporting Goods banned the sale of assault-style rifles two weeks after the Parkland shooting in 2018. This ban on guns caused a destructive ripple through gun manufacturer’s sales.
A large gun manufacturer called American Outdoor Brands (AOBC) reported a 33% decrease in gun sales in 2018 because of Dick’s Sporting Goods’ ban (CNN). Many opposed to gun control argue that banning guns won’t do anything to improve American’s safety from gun violence. The reality is that the harder companies make it to directly purchase guns and ammunition, the harder it is for guns to end up in the wrong hands. Even if companies can’t completely ban the sale of guns in their stores, there are other ways in which they can responsibly sell guns. For instance, companies could stop selling the same semi-automatic rifles that have directly contributed to thousands of deaths. Companies could also mandate thorough background checks and raise the minimum age people can buy a gun from 18 to 21. It’s understandable that changes like banning guns for companies that rely on gun sales for revenue won’t happen overnight, but these small changes can make a big impact.
Retailers have a growing responsibility to the American people to keep guns out of the wrong hands. There are still large retail companies, however, that have yet to change their in-store policies on gun sales. Cabela’s, for example, continues to sell military-style weapons in their over 50 stores across America (Business Insider). Cabela’s should instead follow the lead of Walmart and Dicks by limiting their sales of assault-weapons, ammunition, and gun paraphernalia. Although Americans are often stereotyped as being strongly pro-gun, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
In a May 2019 Quinnipiac poll, 73% of people surveyed agreed that more needs to be done to combat gun violence. The United States government currently doesn’t represent the majority opinion on gun control in America. As disappointing as it is that the American government is too partisan at the moment to make real strides in the gun control movement with new policies, the multiple retail companies that have taken stances on gun control are taking a step in the right direction. It is a constant battle for Americans to stay hopeful while violent mass shootings continue to take more and more innocent lives.
The time for idly waiting for the government to make common-sense gun laws has passed and it’s time for American businesses to do what they can to stop gun violence. We can only hope that the government will eventually compromise on issues this important to American society, but until then, support retailers that ban guns and go vote!