Walmart is removing displays for violent video games at its stores, according to USA Today and CNN, less than a week after a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas killed 22 people and injured dozens of others. The retail giant does not plan to curtail gun sales.
“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment,” Walmart spokesperson Tara House told CNN on Friday.
Walmart did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Several politicians pointed at gory video games in the days after last weekend’s two mass shootings. But Stetson University Professor Christopher Ferguson, who has spent more than a decade looking at how video games impact society, told TheWrap there is “no” connection between games and real-world violence.
“At this point, the evidence is pretty clear that for something we’re worried about, like mass shootings, no, there’s no relationship whatsoever between violent video games and those sort of outcomes,” Ferguson said.
Walmart, with about 4,750 stores under its banner in the U.S., is one of the country’s leading guns and ammunition sellers. Roughly half of all Walmart stores in the U.S. sell guns and ammunition, CBS reported earlier this week.
The El Paso massacre was followed hours later by another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. The attacks came a few days after two Walmart managers were shot and killed at a store in Southaven, Mississippi by what police are calling a disgruntled former employee.
Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove told USA Today “there’s been no change in policy” at the company regarding guns and ammunition sales.
“We are a learning organization, and, as you can imagine, we will work to understand the many important issues that arise from El Paso and Southaven, as well as those that have been raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a note to employees. “We will be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and we will act in a way that reflects the best values and ideals of our company, with a focus on serving the needs of our customers, associates and communities.”
On Thursday, another potential shooting at a Walmart was foiled when a man carrying a rifle and wearing body armor was stopped by an off-duty firefighter and held at gunpoint before police arrived at the Missouri store.