After gun shift, let’s slow the Walmart praise bandwagon

A customer pushes a shopping cart Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, outside a Walmart store, in Walpole, Mass. Walmart is going back to its folksy hunting heritage and getting rid of anything that's not related to a hunting rifle after two mass shootings in its stores in one week left 24 people dead in August of 2019.

Walmart officials announced Tuesday that the retailer would no longer sell handgun or short-barrel rifle ammunition, such as .223 and 5.56 – two calibers commonly used in an AR-15 – in any of their stores (after current supplies were exhausted, of course).

They also said they will stop selling handguns in Alaska - the only place where they were still selling them.

"It's clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a memo to employees on Tuesday.

One interesting aspect of this is that nearly everyone that owns a firearm and uses it regularly – whether for target shooting or for hunting – knows that Walmart has been one of the best places to get bulk ammo cheap for years.

Real cheap.

And while people have been shooting each for decades, Walmart and others have been selling that cheap ammo without hesitation.

They aren’t the only game in town. Ammunition of all sizes and shapes can be found by the single 50-round box or in thousand round cases just about anywhere at any time for a variety of prices.

You can find ammo in pawn shops, sporting goods stores and online.

For a small investment you can even buy the equipment necessary to make your own and spend hours stacking bullets in your basement.

You can also buy a wide variety of rifles and shotguns that shoot a whole bunch of calibers that Walmart will still gladly sell you on the cheap for all your shooting needs.

Just not the stuff that goes in certain black guns and pistols.

Proponents of this move are certainly cheering it. The rallying cry for a while now, after every shooting that’s reported on (those that fit the bill and bring in viewers) has been, “do something.”

Anything.

That’s what Walmart has essentially done: Something. Anything.

Nothing really.

The move might slow down a bad guy trying to save a buck while looking to do damage with a .223 or even influence a few more companies to follow suit but in the end, it is empty and meaningless and most likely politically motivated.

And before we start handing out Nobel Peace Prizes, let’s consider for a moment that a lot of things that kill a lot more people in America than guns and ammo will still be sold at Walmart and on every corner of every town across the nation long after the 5.56 is sold out.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 74 percent of all deaths in the United States each year are the result of 10 causes (in order): Heart Disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic respiratory disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.

In 2017, there were 2,813,503 registered deaths and of those a combined 1,246,565 were a result of heart disease (23.5 percent) and cancer (21.3 percent).

In that same year, the CDC reports that 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries. Of those, 23,854 were a result of suicide (the 10th leading killer in the U.S.) and 14,542 were murders.

How many of those murders were a result of what Beto and his bunch like to term, “mass shootings?”

That’s hard to figure since different sources define mass shootings differently. Beto says we average 300 mass shootings per year in the U.S. The FBI doesn’t have a definition for mass shootings, but they define a mass killing as an incident in which three or more people, not including the suspect, are killed.

So even if there were 300 mass shootings per year like Beto contends, at a minimum that equals 900 people out of the 23,854 people murdered via firearm.

Tragic any way you look at it but that number pales in comparison to the number of people who die from tobacco related cancer every year.

According to the CDC, cancers linked to tobacco use make up 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States.

Cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year and is estimated to cause more than 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke); 278,544 deaths annually among men (including deaths from secondhand smoke); and 201,773 deaths annually among women (including deaths from secondhand smoke).

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Stop selling tobacco today and save the lives of nearly 500,000 Americans annually. It is as simple as that.

Yet most box stores have dedicated checkout lanes for those looking to purchase cigarettes or smokeless tobacco. They sell each minute after minute, hour after hour, and day after day without a second thought.

Meanwhile, smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion each year, including nearly $170 billion for direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity, including $5.6 billion in lost productivity due to secondhand smoke exposure.

Then there’s the unhealthy junk food that lines the shelves of every retail or grocery store in the U.S. and every convenience store and gas station on every highway and street from here to Albuquerque.

In between each one of those stops we have fast food joints raking in billions in profits each year while waistbands expand, and hearts explode.

According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity and overweight together are the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States - right behind tobacco use.

An estimated 300,000 deaths per year are due to the obesity epidemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 300 million people worldwide are obese and another 750 million are overweight. In the United States there are an estimated 97 million overweight or obese adults.

Approximately 78 million adults above age 20 (37.5 million men and 40.6 million women) and 12.5 million children and adolescents (5.5 million boys and 7 million girls) in the United States are obese.

Approximately 20 to 25 percent of children are either overweight or obese, and the prevalence is even greater in some minority groups, including Pima Indians, Mexican Americans, and African Americans.

That aisle and checkout where you can get your smokes for the week at your local box store? That’s the same aisle where you can get a giant-sized candy bar or an overstuffed bag of chips.

Don’t forget to grab an energy drink from the cooler conveniently placed at the start of the line to wash it all down.

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