Walmart Is Often at the Center of the National Gun Debate

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, has frequently been at the center of the debate over gun violence.

Although the chain sells guns at its stores throughout the United States, Walmart has imposed increasingly strict restrictions on firearm sales as mass shootings have continued in the country. In recent years, it stopped selling handguns and certain rifles, including AR-15s, and raised the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21.

After 23 people were killed by a gunman in a Walmart store in El Paso in August 2019, the company publicly urged Congress and President Donald J. Trump to strengthen background checks and renew the debate over an assault rifle ban.

“As we’ve seen before, these horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades,” Walmart’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, said in a statement at the time. “We should not allow that to happen. Congress and the administration should act.”

Walmart has also taken additional steps, such as ceasing the sale of ammunition that could be used in military-style weapons and discouraging people from openly carrying weapons into its stores, a policy it announced in 2019.

In that announcement, Mr. McMillon cited “multiple incidents since El Paso, where individuals attempting to make a statement and test our response have entered our stores carrying weapons in a way that frightened or concerned our associates and customers.”

By the nature of its size and geographic reach — it has more than 4,000 stores spread across the United States — Walmart is commonly the site of crimes, some of them violent. During the pandemic, some retailers and their employees have said that violence has increased in all types of stores.

Walmart has said it has taken steps to bolster security in some stores such as installing cameras in parking lots and hiring off-duty police officers during busy shopping days.