Retail goliath Wal-Mart announced earlier this month it would halt gun sales in its 118 California stores, after state inspectors discovered almost 500 firearms sales violations. Among the offenses committed, employees ignored the 10-day waiting period and also neglected to check thumbprints, driver’s licenses, and other buyer background information, according to the San Diego Channel. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer told the Channel, “Public safety is severely jeopardized when gun dealers provide firearms to people who are prohibited from possessing, much less purchasing them.” Despite state and federal laws banning guns sales to felons, people with restraining orders, people with mental conditions, and perpetrators of domestic violence, the Los Banos Wal-Mart sold guns to two felons, including one convicted of spousal abuse. Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams said new worker training is scheduled to begin later this month.
Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 1036, granting gun makers and dealers legal immunity from damages resulting from the misuse of their products by others, even in cases where guns were illegally obtained due to their negligence. A report released this month by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence revealed that many firearms businesses knowingly permit illegal gun sales. President of the Brady Campaign Michael Barnes called the legislation “unconscionable” in a Brady Campaign press release. Former National Rifle Association (NRA) attorney Robert Ricker criticized the NRA, saying, “Until faced with a serious threat of civil liability for past conduct, leaders in the [gun] industry have consistently resisted taking constructive voluntary action to prevent firearms from ending up in the illegal gun market and have sought to silence others within the industry who have advocated reform,” according to the Christian Science Monitor. The Senate companion bill (S. 659) was referred to the Judiciary Committee 11 days ago.
Media Resources: San Diego Channel 4/4/03; Justice for Gun Victims 4/10/03; Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence 4/10/03; Christian Science Monitor 4/11/03; THOMAS 4/21/03