The largest gun seller in the U.S. is shooting an entire category of firearms off their shelves.

Photo by Mike Mozart/Flickr.


Walmart, the top peddler of guns in the U.S., has decided to stop selling modern sporting rifles (MSRs) and other semi-automatic weapons in fall 2015.

For a country plagued by the world's highest gun violence rate, maybe you're imagining much of the public response looking a little like this:

Sans the gunshots, obvi. GIF from "Up."

But hold your "hoorays" for a moment.

The news may have come and gone relatively unnoticed if it hadn't been reported just one day before a fatal shooting in Roanoke, Virginia.

Roanoke community members participate in a vigil in honor of the two WDBJ-TV journalists gunned down by their former colleague. Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

The dark event, like so many before it, prompted another frantic dig for any sign of hope that gun violence won't last forever, and the Walmart announcement became, to some, a pinhole of light at the end of the tunnel. Tragic happenstance may have drawn public attention to Walmart, but the move hasn't garnered much fanfare.

It's mostly been met by listless debate or weak nods of approval. Although, New York's Trinity Church, a Walmart shareholder that has been pressuring the company to tighten their oversight of gun sales, is "very pleased":

"Trinity Church is very pleased to hear that Walmart will no longer sell the kinds of weapons that have caused such devastation and loss in communities across our country."
— Rev. William Lupfer

Still, while Walmart may no longer sell assault rifles, the company is only replacing the inventory with more products from approved categories, including shotguns, single-shot rifles, and other hunting weapons, all of which have been used in mass shootings.

And we should note that the majority of weapons used in mass shootings in the U.S. were legally obtained — including the handgun used in Roanoke.

Walmart says the decision was about business, not politics.

Photo by Mike Mozart/Flickr.

At least, that's what Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg told Forbes:

“Our merchandising decisions are driven largely by customer demand. In our everyday course of doing business, we are continually reviewing and adjusting our product assortment to meet our customers' needs."

But skeptics of the company's stated motives point out that MSRs are among the most popular for civilian gun buyers.

Whether the decision was about business or politics is irrelevant.

Walmart is one of the world's most profitable businesses. They can afford some lost sales on guns. Why they chose to do it and whether it signals a larger shift in the company's stance on guns is unknown.

The more important question to ask is: How many more lives can we afford to lose to gun violence before we come together to end it?

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less