[NEW YORK] Walmart Inc's new policy discouraging patrons from openly carrying guns will rely heavily on signage and won't require employees to confront every person carrying a firearm, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The nuanced approach is designed to let people who are armed go about their business in a Walmart store, as long as they're not making people uncomfortable, the person said. If an individual with a gun is disturbing others, employees are supposed to tell a manager, who, depending on the severity of the situation, may alert law enforcement or ask the person to remove the firearm from the premises.
The details of the policy, which haven't been previously reported, are likely to fuel further debate over the role businesses and their workers are playing in preventing mass shootings like the massacre of 22 people in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
Employees worried about having to interact with armed customers may be relieved to know they don't have to. But the idea that some patrons can still openly carry firearms in Walmart's more than 4,700 US stores may be less than ideal to gun-control advocates who initially praised Walmart's new measures.
Walmart is modeling its policy after open-carry rules at other chains, such as Starbucks Corp and Target Corp, which also allow their store employees to use discretion.
The policy is designed to be consistent with the broad outline CEO Doug McMillon laid out earlier this week, including an end to sales of some types of ammunition.
"We will treat law-abiding customers with respect, and we will have a very non-confrontational approach," Mr McMillon said.
Kroger Co, Wegmans Food Markets Inc and other retailers followed Walmart's lead, creating a watershed moment in the aftermath of the El Paso shooting and other violent attacks around the US that have reignited the national debate over gun ownership.