Let The Free Market Work

To the Editor:

The world’s largest retailer Walmart announced that it will no longer sell handguns and certain types of ammunition in addition to asking its customers to not openly carry firearm in its stores. It is predictable that the National Rifle Association (NRA) went ballistic because of Walmart’s decision. In their statement, the NRA claimed that Walmart with its policy change was violating free market principles. It seems to me that Walmart was making a free market decision. The government did not force them to make this policy change. And as its president and CEO Doug McMillon stated in a letter to its employees, the decision was made after listening to people inside and outside of their company. No doubt, Mr. McMillon knows what a new poll by Edelman Intelligence shows. It found that 45% of Americans are more likely to purchase a company’s product or service if the CEO has address gun violence as apposed to 11% that would not. Even gun owners are more likely to support companies that take a stance on gun violence than not by a margin of 38% to 17%.

The NRA blew up its own argument, however, when they stated that Walmart will lose customers to other retailers because of its policy change. Of course that is a possibility; but that is how the free market systems works. If a retailer does not have the items I want to buy, I am free to shop elsewhere. If a store has a policy that I don’t like, I am free to shop at another store. But in a free market, people are just as free to start shopping at that retailer.

The NRA then claims that Walmart is victimizing law-abiding Americans and therefore undermining America’s fundamental freedoms. How? No guns have been taken away from anyone. Guns and ammo are still legal to buy. People are free to shop at other retailers if they do not agree with Walmart’s policy change.

It is important to remember that one of the functions of the NRA is promote gun sales. Given that Walmart accounts for two percent of guns sales in America and 20% of ammunition sales, it is quite apparent that the NRA is really concerned about a possible loss of revenue for guns and ammunition manufacturers. Rather than having organizations like the NRA assail our free market systems for their own benefit, I believe we should let retailers make their own decisions and trust a free market to determine the consequences.

Steven Isham

St. Johnsbury, Vermont

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