Walmart has decided to stop selling firearms at its 16 New Mexico locations due to a new universal background check law which went into effect last Monday, July 1, 2019.
Senate Bill (SB) 8, makes it unlawful to sell any firearm without having first performed a background check. Doing so could result in a misdemeanor charge for every firearm that is sold during the transaction.
Sales between family members, and sales of antique firearms are excepted from SB 8, and any firearms sellers with a Federal Firearms License are allowed to charge up to $35 per federal background check.
According to Tiffany Wilson, a Walmart spokesperson, the big box store chain decided to pull all firearms from its stores in New Mexico because the company and its staff are not prepared to handle the potential influx of customers attempting to conduct firearm background checks at their NM locations.
“… (Walmart is) not currently designed to conduct background checks for private-party firearms transfers under New Mexico’s new law,” Wilson said in an email about the company decision.
She went on to say that Walmart employees are not prepared, “… to handle and potentially store handguns and modern sporting rifles, which are types of firearms that Walmart does not sell and associates are not trained to handle or render safe.”
Additionally, since Walmart is a general merchandise store and not a business dedicated to the sale of firearms, company decision makers decided to forego the sale of all firearms at their NM stores for safety concerns.
“Unlike a specialty sporting goods retailer, where customers expect to see firearms of various types being handled,” Wilson told KOAT-TV. “Walmart customers do not generally expect to see individuals walking through the store potentially carrying multiple firearms, which can lead to confusion and potentially putting both our customers and associates at risk.”
Gov. Grisham’s press secretary, Nora Meyers Sackett, said Walmart’s decision to remove firearms from its shelves appears to be the right decision:
“Background checks are shown to be both lifesaving and overwhelmingly popular. The governor stands behind the reasonable expectation of any business facilitating the sale of firearms to be able to create or maintain an environment where quick, noninvasive background checks can be completed in a safe manner. If those who sell firearms are not able to do so, discontinuing such sales would seem to be the right move.”
Opponents of the bill, including state law enforcement officials with the New Mexico Sheriff’s Association which vigorously opposed SB 8, say the bill targets only those law-abiding citizens who are already inclined to follow the law, and does nothing to stop actual criminals.
Walmart will no longer sell firearms at its New Mexico locations beginning July 22, 2019, but will continue to sell ammunition.
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