Walmart introduces new gun restrictions but will they help?

A Walmart logo forms part of a sign outside a Walmart store, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, 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.

Local gun shop owners expect to see an increase, if modest, of ammunition sales following Walmart's decision to cease selling handgun and short barrel rifle rounds.

"It'll make an impact," said Nathan Lamb, owner of Lanco Tactical in Elizabethtown. "When you take that out of the market the customers have to go somewhere."

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, in a memo to employees on Tuesday, announced the company would stop selling the ammo, as well as handguns in Alaska, following a mass shooting at a store in El Paso, Texas, last month in which 22 people died.

There are three Walmarts in Lancaster County, one on Lincoln Highway and one on Fruitville Pike, both in Lancaster, and one on Main Street in Ephrata. All three sell ammunition of the type soon to be discontinued, according to a local Walmart sporting goods department employee.

The company is also asking customers to not open carry weapons in its store, unless the individual is an authorized law enforcement officer.

Jamie Musser, owner of the Ephrata-based Musser Outdoors, said his store has already seen more business as a result of Walmart's stance on firearms. He said he has seen increased business following the company's decision to stop selling AR-15s in 2015.

And he thinks this political stance by Walmart could affect sales of its remaining firearm and ammunition inventory.

"A true Second Amendment person is going to not shop at somewhere that infringes on their rights," Musser said.

Walmart stock is up about 1% following the announcement, but ammunition was a big seller for Walmart. McMillion said in his memo that Walmart accounted for about 20% of the nation's ammo sales, and expected that number to drop to 6 to 9%.

"That's a big number," Tom Weimann, owner of Backwoods Outfitters in Columbia, said.

He thinks local gun shops will likely see some increased sales because of that customer displacement, but added that there are so many gun dealers that the upticks will likely be modest.

He also wouldn't be surprised if Walmart makes more changes down the road.

"If they're willing to give up this much money, they will probably give up shotguns and rifles in the next few years."