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(UPDATED) Walmart announces plan to ban 'military style' rifle ammunition and handgun ammunition, will ask customers not to open carry in stores

'We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand'

Barbara Alper/Getty Images

UPDATE: In response to this article, a representative from Walmart reached out to TheBlaze for clarification as to whether open carry would be "banned" in Walmart stores with the following statement: "It's not exactly accurate to say open carry is banned, what we are doing is asking people not to do it. We will treat law-abiding customers with respect, and we will have a very non-confrontational approach. Our first priority is safety. We will be providing new signage to help communicate this policy in the coming weeks."

We reached back out to Walmart and asked, for further clarification, what would happen if a customer refused their request not to open carry, regardless of how polite that request was phrased.

In response, the Walmart representative answered, "We will respectfully request that they do not carry. The discretion will be given to the store manager. If there is not imminent threat, the SM can ask them to leave the weapon in the vehicle for next time. If the customer is causing concern or fear with customers/associates, the store manager can then approach the customer and/or follow necessary protocols for a potential active shooter. In some states, open carry is very common, so again, some discretion will be given to the store manager."

The headline has been updated in light of this clarification.

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One of the nation's largest retailers is making some drastic changes to its policies on guns and ammunition following high-profile shootings over the summer, one of which occurred at its stores.

In a memo circulated to employees on Tuesday, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon announced that the company would no longer sell handgun ammunition or "short-barrel rifle ammunition" like .223 and 5.56 NATO caliber, "that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons."

Now the Arkansas-based company will focus on long barrel hunting rifles and their corresponding ammunition, the CEO added.

"We have a long heritage as a company of serving responsible hunters and sportsmen and women, and we're going to continue doing so," McMillon said.

"We've also been listening to a lot of people inside and outside our company as we think about the role we can play in helping to make the country safer." McMillon added. "It's clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable."

In addition to the inventory changes, the company will also ask that customers no longer openly carry their guns in its stores unless they are members of law enforcement.

"We believe the opportunity for someone to misinterpret a situation, even in open carry states, could lead to tragic results," McMillon said in a memo distributed to employees on Tuesday. "We hope that everyone will understand the circumstances that led to this new policy and will respect the concerns of their fellow shoppers and our associates."

However, the executive explained, "As it relates to concealed carry by customers with permits, there is no change to our policy or approach."

The company will also stop selling handguns in Alaska, the only state where it still does so, "marking our complete exit from handguns."

Walmart has previously said that its share of the national ammunition sales market was around 20 percent. Tuesday's memo estimated that the change will bring the company's share to somewhere between 6 and 9 percent.

As the reason for the changes, the memo cites the early August shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed, as well as another incident at a Walmart store in Southaven, Mississippi, where authorities say one employee fatally shot two co-workers. It also mentions shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and this past weekend's attack in Midland and Odessa, Texas.

"We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand," McMillon wrote. "As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same."

Walmart has made decisions to scale back its gun and ammunition offerings before. The company began its exit from the handgun business in 1993 and stopped selling AR-style modern sporting rifles in 2015.

Update:

The National Rifle Association responded to the news of Walmart's policy changes hours later, saying it was "shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites."

"The truth is Walmart's actions today will not make us any safer," the statement continued. "Rather than place the blame on the criminal, Walmart has chosen to victimize law-abiding Americans."

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