Wal-Mart agrees to tighten policy on firearms salesCampaigners pressing for tougher controls on the sale of guns in the US notched up a big victory this week when Wal-Mart, the country's largest seller of firearms, agreed to a 10-point plan designed to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of criminals.
Wal-Mart, which sells more guns than any company in the world, agreed to co-operate with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bi-partisan group led by New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg Michael Rubens Bloomberg (born 14 February 1942) is an American businessman, and the founder of Bloomberg L.P., currently serving as the Mayor of New York City. He was a general partner at Salomon Brothers before founding the financial software service company in 1981. .
The group has been pushing for greater safeguards at retail outlets on the sale of firearms which fuel murder rates in America's urban areas.
Under the agreement, Wal-Mart will tighten rules at about a third of its 3,200 stores across the country. A further third will stop trading guns altogether, though for reasons of declining sales.
The new restrictions include more extensive background checks on Wal-Mart staff selling guns; all gun sales will be filmed and the videotape kept for six months; and where guns are later used in crime, extra scrutiny will be given to the original purchaser should they try to buy another weapon.
The announcement came on the eve On the Eve (Накануне in Russian) is the third novel by famous Russian writer Ivan Turgenev, best known for his short stories and the novel Fathers and Sons. of the anniversary of last year's Virginia Tech massacre The Virginia Tech massacre was a school shooting comprising two separate attacks about two hours apart on April 16, 2007, on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, United States. , in which a college gunman, Seung-Hui Cho
Seung-Hui Cho (January 18 1984 – April 16 2007) was a student at Virginia Tech who committed the mass murder of 32 people and wounded 25 others , killed 32 people — 27 students and five lecturers — on campus. The university will hold a day of remembrance culminating in a candlelit can·dle·lit
Illuminated by candles: a candlelit ceremony. vigil.
Wal-Mart's concessions were immediately denounced by the National Rifle Association National Rifle Association (NRA)
Governing organization for the sport of shooting with rifles and pistols. It was founded in Britain in 1860. The U.S. organization, formed in 1871, has a membership of some four million. Both the British and the U.S. (NRA NRA
(National Rifle Association of America) organization that encourages sharpshooting and use of firearms for hunting. [Am. Pop. Culture: NCE, 1895]
See : Hunting ), which derided the move as a public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most stunt.
"This stigmatises law-abiding firearms purchasers exercising their freedom under the constitution," the head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre Wayne LaPierre (born November 8, 1948) is a prominent gun rights advocate and author in the United States. Since 1991, he has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Rifle Association, the largest American gun rights organization. , said. "I honestly think it's a corporation trying to curry favour Verb 1. curry favour - seek favor by fawning or flattery; "This employee is currying favor with his superordinates"
court favor, court favour, curry favor with politicians as opposed to doing anything meaningful about stopping crime."
But for such a dominant chain as Wal-Mart to co-operate with Bloomberg's campaign is symbolically important, and suggests that the NRA's iron grip over the gun debate may be loosening.
A record number of states are considering legislation that would enhance gun restrictions, mainly concerning the sale of firearms to convicted criminals and those with a history of mental illness.
According to the anti-gun group Brady Centre to Prevent Gun Violence, 52 such bills are being considered across 22 states.
The moves are partly in response to Virginia Tech. It was discovered after the massacre that Cho had managed to buy weapons via the internet and from gun shops in Virginia despite having had a long track record of anxiety and depression.
Though the second amendment of the US constitution, granting the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" remains a powerful force, there is evidence that public opinion may be shifting. A nationwide poll carried out by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that nine out of 10 Americans wanted to see gun stores complete background checks on their employees.
A similar proportion of respondents who owned guns said they were unopposed or in favour of the filming of firearms sales.
The tighter regulations on sales is particularly poignant for Wal-Mart which has always had a strong association with guns since it was set up in 1962 in Arkansas by the quail-hunting Sam Walton. The chain sells rifles and shotguns, but not handguns except in its Alaska stores.
The company has had a troubled reputation in this area. In 2005 it was forced to pay $14.5m (£7.4m) to the Californian state authorities after it was found to have committed thousands of violations of gun safety laws.
An investigation by the California justice department discovered 2,891 violations over a three-year period in five randomly chosen Wal-Mart stores.
The breaches included the delivery of guns to 23 people banned from buying them, and a further 36 sales to prohibited buyers through relatives or friends.
The agreement with Bloomberg prompted speculation that there may be some commercial consideration involved. Wal-Mart has long expressed an interest in opening outlets in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. , but has failed to secure planning permission.