SHOCK: Journalist Goes to Walmart to Find Out How Hard It Is to Get a Gun
After long inquiries on the phone, Peterson found a Walmart Supercenter in Chesterfield, Virginia where she could acquire a firearm.
She also observed that the “selection of guns was limited compared with nearby gun stores, which offered dozens of different kinds of firearms, including handguns.”
Walmart discontinued the sale of handguns in the 1990s and stopped selling AR-15s in stores beginning in 2015.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon highlighted Walmart’s gun-sales procedures that go beyond federal mandates, which Peterson details below:
For example, Walmart last year raised the minimum age to purchase a gun or ammunition to 21. Walmart also sells a firearm only after receiving a “green light” on a background check, while federal law requires only the absence of a “red light” after three business days, he said.
McMillon said that Walmart videotapes “the point of sale for firearms, only allow certain associates to sell firearms, and secure firearms in a locking case with individual locks, among other measures.”
Peterson was then instructed to fill out the form.
The form asked her several questions about her name, address, and Social Security number. It also asked for information about her race, gender, and US citizenship status.
She also pointed out that a section titled “certification of transferee” asked about her criminal record.
Under a section called “certification of transferee,” it asked about my criminal record — whether I had ever been convicted of a felony, subject to a restraining order, or prohibited from purchasing a firearm, among other specifics.
Emphasized in red print, the form said that “an untruthful answer may subject you to criminal prosecution.”
However, the journalist encountered a roadblock:
The seller told me that my background check would likely be completed within a few minutes after I finished the paperwork. Once the purchase was finalized, an employee would walk the gun out to my car with me. But I had only just finished printing my name when she stopped me and asked whether the address on my license matched my home address. I had moved since I obtained my license, and the addresses didn’t match.
The store attendant said “that was a problem.”
For her to pass the background check, she would “need to bring in a government-issued document with my correct address, such as a bill from a state-owned utility or a car registration.”
The attendant later apologized and told her that the rules around background checks were strict, and asked that she return another time to finish the purchase.
The journalist called it quits and decided to no longer buy a gun at Walmart.
She said, “I had invested several hours across two days on this. If I were actually in the market for a rifle, I would have gone to a local gun shop instead after about five minutes of trying to figure out which Walmart stores sold guns.”
Peterson concluded, “Overall, the experience left me with the impression that buying a gun at Walmart is more complicated than I expected, and that Walmart takes gun sales and security pretty seriously.”