Walmart, the biggest seller of guns and ammunition in the United States, announced last week it will stop selling “semi-automatic weapons” like the AR-15 and instead will focus on “firearms more associated with hunters and sportsmen.”
The company said the decision was based solely on declining sales, not political pressure. Yet many find this explanation more than a little suspicious.
Although gun sales have indeed slowed down recently, there are signs they may be picking back up. Gun sales spiked 11% in June alone, making it the busiest June ever, according to CNN.
The AR-15 remains one of the most popular guns in the United States, with an estimated four million currently in circulation. AR-15 sales accounted for “roughly a billion dollars of the $4 billion U.S. gun industry” in 2013, CNBC reported.
And there is at least one explanation for Wal-Mart’s decision that has nothing to do with gun sales. The company recently faced a lawsuit to force shareholders to vote on whether the store should carry products that “endanger public safety and well being.”
Walmart’s explanation simply doesn’t add up. Yet the company insisted that market forces were the sole reason for its decision.
"It’s based on what customers are looking for and what they were buying when they come into Walmart," company spokesman Kory Lundberg told USA Today. "It’s very similar to what we do with other products. If there’s not customer demand there, we’ll phase it out."