By DEVLIN BARRETT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Wal-Mart, the nation's largest seller
of firearms, announced Monday it will toughen rules for gun sales, from storing
video of purchases to creating an internal log of which guns they sell that are
later used in crimes.
J.P. Suarez, the chief compliance officer for Wal-Mart
Stores Inc., appeared with outspoken gun control advocate Mayor Michael
Bloomberg of New York to announce the changes at a gathering of Bloomberg's
group Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Changes to come at about 1,100 Wal-Mart stores selling
_Creating a record and alert system to record when a gun
sold at Wal-Mart is later used in a crime. If the purchaser of that gun later
tries to buy another gun at Wal-Mart, the system would alert the sales clerk of
the prior buy and could refuse to make the sale.
_Retaining the recorded images of gun sales in case law
enforcement wants to view them later as part of an investigation.
_Expanding background checks of employees who handle
guns and expanding inventory controls.
Suarez said the tougher standards will come with some
additional cost to the company.
"The costs are, we think, part of what it takes to be
responsible. Everything is not pain-free," he said, adding that small sellers
can implement many of the same rules. He did not say how long it would take to
implement all the changes, but noted that software must still be created for an
internal log of guns later used in crimes.
Suarez said his company may receive some pressure from
gun rights groups, but added, "This is not a signal that we're getting out of
The National Rifle Association denounced the company's
"I view it as a public relations stunt that stigmatizes
law-abiding firearms purchasers exercising their freedom under the
Constitution," said NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. He said that if politicians were
serious about reducing gun crime they would worry less about legal sellers and
buyers and get tougher criminal sentences for illegal gun dealers.
"I honestly think it's a corporation trying to curry
favor with politicians as opposed to doing anything meaningful about stopping
crime," said LaPierre.
Wal-Mart sells only rifles and shotguns in its U.S.
stores, with the exception of Alaska sites, which also sell handguns.
Bloomberg urged other companies to join Wal-Mart in the
initiative called the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership.
"We didn't pressure them, they're doing it because they
think it's the responsible thing to do," he said.
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, had previously
tried to establish a store in New York City but failed.
The mayors' gun summit also unveiled a new lobbying
effort to close what they call the "gun show loophole," which allows sales of
firearms without background checks between private individuals at gun shows.
Bloomberg founded the group two years ago with Boston
mayor Thomas Menino to reduce the flow of guns from store displays into the
hands of criminals.
The group, largely funded by Bloomberg's personal
fortune, announced it was spending more than $100,000 on television ads,
starting Wednesday, featuring all three of the current main presidential
candidates voicing their opposition to the gun show loophole.
The ads will run in the home states of the three
candidates — John McCain of Arizona, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and
Barack Obama of Illinois. It also will air across Pennsylvania, which holds its
primary next week, as well as Florida, Maryland and Massachusetts.
The mayors group is trying to gather support in Congress
_End the gun show loophole.
_Require gun dealers to perform criminal background
checks on all gun-handling employees.
_Close a so-called fire-sale loophole that allows gun
dealers whose licenses have been revoked by the government to sell off their
inventory without background checks.
_Add those placed on the terrorist no-fly list to the
list of people prohibited from purchasing a firearm.