Walmart is More Responsible than the Government

Walmart’s New Rules

Just one day after Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it was raising its required proof of age to 21 for firearm sales, Walmart followed suit with the announcement that it would be raising its age of purchase to 21 for both firearms and ammunition. Rather than making an empty publicity play like Delta or Enterprise have done in cutting business ties with the NRA, Walmart and Dick’s are putting their money where their mouth is and taking action rather than sitting and waiting for government to legislate. It is ironic that the NRA’s most prevalent role today seems to be as a target.

While Congress has sat on its hands, market regulation proves to be a superior provider of safety. Anyone who claims you can just walk into Walmart and buy an AR-15 hasn’t been paying attention: Walmart hasn’t carried that particular rifle nor any in its category since 2015, and Dick’s made the same change back in 2012. This is good gun policy in action, and nary a Senator or Representative in sight. Imagine that!

Good Gun Policy is Responsible, not Emotional

The debate about gun control often misses the very obvious point that a private, voluntary transaction requires both buyer and seller. One of the most common critiques from the gun control side is that nobody “needs” an AR-15. Even Fox News conservatives are repeating a version of this line, but it’s a bad take that misses the underlying point: property is not distributed based on need. If that was a system that worked, the Olympic Athletes from Russia would’ve been flying a Soviet flag and playing “Slav’sya, Otechestvo nashe svobodnoye” when they won their medals.

The fact that guns are dangerous doesn’t change this underlying point, despite the emotions which come rushing forward every time guns make their way into the news. If you believe that schools are less safe than they used to be, statistics has some news for you: “shooting incidents involving students have been declining since the 1990s.” Yes, declining. The article goes on to show that more children each year are killed by pool drownings or bicycle accidents.

Rarity is what makes these events so newsworthy, and government inaction is not an issue because private actors take responsibility even when there are obvious government failures at every level of most of these cases.
Fortunately, when major sellers get out of the game, the laws of supply and demand dictate that private transactions now become more expensive to undertake for both sides. Hobbyists and sport shooters will hardly be inconvenienced by the new normal, except in the wallet. Father-son hunting time won’t miss a beat – all the things Americans love about guns are still perfectly fine and dandy.

A Personal Recommendation

This author recommends to anyone who has never handled a gun to take an afternoon and learn to shoot skeet – it’s thrilling, safe, and will completely change your perspective. Guns don’t mask your inner weaknesses, but they do give a feeling of power that is amazing to control. Lifting weights is an activity that frankly used to scare me a little bit, but facing that fear was easy with the help of a trainer. I imagine it would be the same with guns for a majority of people who have never taken the time to learn a thing about them. There’s a quote from PhD Bret Contreras on the wall of my gym that is instructive in this case: “If you think lifting weights is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous.”

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