Walmart CEO Doug McMillon announced that the behemoth global retailer would no longer sell short-barrel rifle ammunition, handgun ammunition and will cease sales of handguns in Alaska, “marking our complete exit from handguns.”
“As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” he said. McMillon was referring to a shooting at a Southaven, Mississippi Walmart where an employee killed two other staffers and the El Paso “hate-filled attack in our store” when a gunman using an assault-style rifle shot 48 people, killing 22.
Going further, McMillon said that in states with open carry laws, he’s “respectfully asking” that people not “openly carry firearms into our stores …”
Read his full statement here.
McMillon, 52, has never worked anywhere else but Walmart. Born in Memphis, he was raised in Jonesboro, Arkansas until age 16 when his family moved to Bentonville and McMillon took a summer job unloading trucks at a Walmart distribution center. That was 1984. And besides going off to college to earn degrees including an MBA, he’s never worked anywhere else.
McMillon is married to Shelly McMillon and they have two young-adult sons. He makes $19 million a year and is worth more than $100 million. Forbes named McMillon to its World’s Most Powerful People for three years in a row. Since taking the helm of Walmart, he has made some headline-making decisions.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. McMillon’s Move to Stop Certain Gun & Ammo Sales Comes After Previous Limitations on Firearm & Ammunition Sales & Requisite Background Checks
McMillon wrote that even though the company had “previously made decisions to stop selling handguns or military-style rifles such as the AR-15, to raise the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21, to require a ‘green light’ on a background check while federal law only requires the absence of a ‘red light,’ to videotape the point of sale for firearms and to only allow certain trained associates to sell firearms,” those measures did not go far enough.
“We want what’s best for our customers, our associates and our communities. In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again. The status quo is unacceptable,” he wrote signing the letter simply, “Doug.”
After the El Paso domestic terror incident at the Walmart store, McMillon posted a lengthy essay on his feeling on his Instagram account.
“Last week, our Walmart family suffered two separate acts of violence. It’s difficult to find a word strong enough to describe the way we feel. We’re feeling a range of emotions – shock, anger, grief. We also feel gratitude for the first responders in El Paso and Southaven and are proud of the way associates reacted so courageously,” he wrote.
“I’m in El Paso today, and I’ve met heroes. We heard incredible stories of associates who made heroic efforts to get customers to safety…” he wrote and shares their stories. “When the worst happens, we counter with our best selves. We support each other, pray, stand firm and heal together. We’re proud to be woven into the American fabric as a place for all people, a community gathering place,” he said.
“As it becomes clear that the shooting in El Paso was motivated by hate, we’re more resolved than ever to foster an inclusive environment where all people are valued and welcomed. Our store in El Paso is well known as a tight-knit community hub, where we serve customers from both sides of the border. I continue to be amazed at the strength and resilience we find in the diversity of communities where we live and work,” he wrote, calling Walmart a “learning organization” talking about gun violence.
The NRA issued a statement that attacking Walmart saying it had gone too far.
“It’s shameful to see Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elite.”
But McMillon, likely aware of the sure-to-come criticism, closed his letter to employees by saying, “We’ll work to understand the many important issues arising from El Paso and Southaven as well as those raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence. We’ll be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and will act in a way that reflects our best values and ideals, focused on the needs of our customers, associates and communities.”
2. Gun Owner McMillon Says Walmart is Still Committed to Selling Hunting-Related Firearms, Ammunition & Supplies as Hunting is Part of American ‘Heritage’
“I’m a gun owner myself. We understand that heritage, our deeply rooted place in America and our influence as the world’s largest retailer. And we understand the responsibility that comes with it,” he wrote.
To that end, he wrote, that while the decision he’s made may be hard for some to understand, “Our remaining assortment will be even more focused on the needs of hunting and sport shooting enthusiasts. It will include long barrel deer rifles and shotguns, much of the ammunition they require, as well as hunting and sporting accessories and apparel.”
But, McMillon has made it clear that gun sales for hunting and sport are what he wants his stores to be limited to.
He’s said he does not want to ever have to write notes like these again. Some say Walmart’s move does not go far enough like Joe Biden, who called out the GOP in Congress.
“This is an important step by Walmart, but we must go further. If we want to end our gun violence epidemic, we must start by passing universal background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” he wrote in a tweet.
It’s your turn to act, Senate Republicans.
3. McMillon Rebuked Trump After Charlottesville
McMillon spoke out after Trump’s statement following the domestic terrorist attack in Charlottesville that led to the death of Heather Heyer.
Trump said, “You had very fine people on both sides.”
McMillon said, in a statement that at the time was posted on the Walmart website and has since been removed, that Trump “missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists.”
Here’s McMillon’s full statement:
“Respect for the individual is one of our core beliefs at Walmart. And the role we play in communities around the country to build a more diverse and inclusive society is more critical than ever as the tragic events in Charlottesville over the weekend painfully reminded us. Our prayers are with the victims and their families.
As we watched the events and the response from President Trump over the weekend, we too felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists. His remarks today were a step in the right direction and we need that clarity and consistency in the future.
Our country is facing some very difficult issues that require our elected officials, business leaders and community-based organizations to work together. Representing a company with the largest and one of the most diverse groups of associates in the U.S., and an even more diverse customer base of tens of millions of customers, we believe we should stay engaged to try to influence decisions in a positive way and help bring people together. I will continue to strongly advocate on behalf of our associates and customers, and urge our elected officials to do their part to promote a more just, tolerant and diverse society.”
He concluded, “Thank you for representing Walmart and our values today — and every day.”
And Trump tweeted.
4. McMillon, a Born-Again Christian, Promotes Philanthropy & Community Service & Has Spoken Out, & Acted, on Key Social Issues, Like Banning Confederate-Themed Merchandise
After white supremacist Dylann Roof shot and killed nine Black churchgoers in Charleston, McMillon told CNN Business he was surprised to learn the retailer sold Confederate-themed merchandise. He told Crains “We do not want to sell anything that offends people. When we saw that they were out there, we decided to discontinue.”
McMillon championed charity Feeding America. “Our associates in Puerto Rico are distinguishing themselves as they serve others and it was fantastic that Jimmy Fallon recognized their efforts last night! Thank you Jimmy! They deserve it. #PuertoRico”
During the early days of the Flint water crisis, he said Walmart partnered with “#Good360, an organization that connects donors to groups providing critical support on the ground. Visit Good360.org/Flint to learn more about how you can join the effort. Let’s be there for Flint!”
In 2015, he wrote about Walmart’s five-year commitment to global disaster relief.
“When Hurricane Katrina struck, our associates in New Orleans and the gulf region worked tirelessly to help the communities we serve recover. Today, I’m honored to announce a 5-year commitment from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation on global disaster relief and resiliency. We’re all in this together. #katrina10”
5. As a Teenager, McMillon Made $6.50 an Hour in 1984. Today, His Check From Walmart Contains a Few More Zeros. He Often Shares Walmart History on His Social Media
His first name is actually Carl.
C. Douglas McMillon started out as an hourly summer associate in a Walmart distribution center in 1984. He’s said he made around $6 an hour.
According to his Walmart bio, in 1990, while pursuing his master’s degree in business administration, he rejoined the company as an assistant manager in a Tulsa Walmart store before moving to merchandising.
“He went on to serve in successful senior leadership roles in all of Walmart’s business segments. He remains a merchant at heart and understands where customers around the world are heading next,” it reads.
He graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor of science in business administration and earned his MBA in finance from the University of Tulsa.
From February 2009 to February 2014, he served as president and CEO of Walmart International. Beginning in 2005 through 2009, he served as president and CEO of Sam’s Club. In 2014, he was named company CEO.
McMillon’s wife is Shelley and they have two adult sons; Spencer and Blake.