Gun rights activists in Texas are testing Walmart’s request not to open-carry in stores by doing just that.
David Amad, the vice president of Open Carry Texas, told The New York Times the 38,000 members of his group have openly carried their guns inside Walmart stores since the retailer announced last week it is “respectfully requesting” customers to no longer openly bring guns into its stores.
He said none of the members who have done so have been asked to leave.
“They are ducking the issue,” Amad told the Times. “They are trying to get the gun haters to leave them alone, while at the same time leave us alone when we carry in their stores.”
A Walmart spokesperson told The Hill that employees are not instructed to approach peaceful shoppers who may be carrying guns in areas where hunting is popular. The goal is to maintain a “non-confrontational approach,» the spokesperson said, citing the language Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillion used in last week’s announcement.
However, the spokesperson said the company has provided guidelines for store managers if a customer is making employees or customers uncomfortable. Managers are expected to take the advised protocol for different situations, which in some instances may mean calling law enforcement.
Walmart’s decision to ask gun owners not to openly carry firearms into its stores came after an August shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, left 22 dead.
The decision stopped short of an outright ban on guns in stores and represents a similar approach to those taken by other retailers, including Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, Target and Starbucks.
Costco is the only retailer in the top 30 largest U.S. retailers to ban firearms, based on interviews conducted by The Hill last week.
Stores can legally restrict the carrying of guns on to their private property.
–This report was updated at 12:20 p.m.