Walmart has decided to stop selling handgun ammunition in its stores and will be asking customers to refrain from openly carrying weapons into its stores.The move was announced by the company on Sept. 3 as a response to recent mass shootings.

This decision means that customers in states like Maine with an open carry law, will no longer be allowed to openly carry firearms into Walmart and Sam's Club.

In an open letter to Walmart employees dated Sept. 3, Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said the changes are meant to increase store "safety and security" and to "help make the country safer."

McMillon detailed the changes the company will be making in his letter, which include discontinuing the sales of handgun ammunition and stopping selling handguns in Alaska, the last state in which the company sold them.

We’ve been giving a lot of thought to our sale of firearms and ammunition. We’ve 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.

Today, we’re sharing the decisions we’ve made that go further:

  • After selling through our current inventory commitments, we will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons;
  • We will sell through and discontinue handgun ammunition; and
  • We will discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking our complete exit from handguns.

In addition, McMillon said the company will now ask customers to no longer openly carry guns into Walmart and Sam's Club.

As it relates to safety in our stores, there have been multiple incidents since El Paso where individuals attempting to make a statement and test our response have entered our stores carrying weapons in a way that frightened or concerned our associates and customers. We have also had well-intentioned customers acting lawfully that have inadvertently caused a store to be evacuated and local law enforcement to be called to respond. These incidents are concerning and we would like to avoid them, so we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where “open carry” is permitted – unless they are authorized law enforcement officers.

McMillion added that properly permitted concealed carry weapons would not be included in this new policy. "As it relates to concealed carry by customers with permits, there is no change to our policy or approach," he said.

"We will treat law-abiding customers with respect, and we will have a very non-confrontational approach," McMillon said about the new store policy. "Our priority is [employee] safety. We will be providing new signage to help communicate this policy in the coming weeks."

McMillon said the company would not be getting out of the firearms business entirely. "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," he said.