Following two shootings inside its stores, Walmart is removing violent video game displays and signs from stores, the retailer confirmed Thursday.
Stores were sent a memo that called for “immediate action” to remove signing and displays that “contain violent themes or aggressive behavior.” The memo circulated on Twitter and Reddit, and Walmart officials confirmed its authenticity to USA TODAY.
“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,” said Tara House, a Walmart spokeswoman, in a statement.
On Saturday, 22 people were killed at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, days after two Walmart managers were killed by a gunman described as a disgruntled worker in a store in Southaven, Mississippi.
On Thursday in Springfield, Missouri, police arrested a 20-year-old man in body armor and military-style clothing after he walked inside a Walmart carrying a “tactical rifle” and another gun. Police say he pushed a shopping cart and used his phone to record people fleeing the store.
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Walmart officials said this week the retailer is not going to stop selling guns, though some gun control advocates are calling on it to do so.
‘’There’s been no change in policy,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said, adding that the retailer has been focused on caring for customers and employees in the El Paso community. “It’s horrible … what’s happened.’’
In a note to store employees, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the retailer will be “thoughtful and deliberate” in its responses.
“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,” McMillon said. “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.”
Video game signage memo
According to the memo, Walmart stores were told to:
- Use your best judgement when determining whether an element is appropriate. If you are unsure, remove the item or turn it off as a precautionary measure.
- Turn off any hunting season videos that may be playing in Sporting Goods, and remove any monitors or displays that show the videos.
- Check all signing throughout the store and remove any referencing combat or third-person shooter video games.
- Verify that no movies depicting violence are playing in Electronics.
- Cancel any events promoting combat style or third-person shooter games that may be scheduled in Electronics.
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