It is always interesting to watch knee-jerk reactions to horrible events. Take, for instance, Walmart’s decision to stop selling handgun ammunition and ammunition commonly used in assault-style rifles.
America’s largest retailer says it also will curtail selling handguns in Alaska, the only state where it still offers them. It earlier stopped selling assault-style rifles. The action follows two horrendous shootings at its stores — a July shooting at a Mississippi store and one in El Paso in August.
Walmart, though, says it will continue to sell hunting rifles, shotguns and ammunition for those guns.
Will that make anybody measurably safer?
It should be noted that the Centers for Disease Control say more than 36,000 people died in 2017 from unintentional falls. The World Health Organization says the U.S. leads the world in ladder fatalities, with more than 300 deaths and 500,000 injures annually. Yet Walmart continues to sell ladders.
About 40,000 people die each year in motor vehicle traffic accidents. Drunken drivers are involved in about 11,000 of those deaths. Yet Walmart continues to sell alcohol.
Some 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017, yet the retailer continues to sell pharmaceuticals.
Between 2007 and 2017, nearly 1,700 people were murdered with a knife or sharp object per year – or four times the number of people murdered by rifles. Walmart still sells knives and hunting rifles.
It also should be noted that about 39,700 people died in firearm-related deaths in 2017. Of those, about 60 percent were suicides.
That year, handguns were involved in 64 percent of the 10,982 U.S. gun murders and non-negligent manslaughters, the FBI says. Rifles of all types were involved in only 4 percent of the deaths. FBI statistics show more people were beaten to death in 2017 than were killed by rifles.
A New York Times analysis last year concluded that since 2007, at least “173 people have been killed in mass shootings in the United States involving AR-15s.” That is fewer than 17 per year over the span of a decade.
One is too many, of course, but if Walmart really is interested in making us all safer, it also would stop selling alcohol, pharmaceuticals, knives and ladders.