Walmart will stop selling handguns and certain types of ammunition, and will no longer allow customers to openly carry firearms. Picture: Reuters

Washington - Walmart will stop selling handguns and certain types of ammunition, and will no longer allow customers to openly carry firearms, after separate shootings at company stores last month left at least 24 people dead.

"It's clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable," chief executive Doug McMillon said in a memo to employees on Tuesday. "We know these decisions will inconvenience some of our customers, and we hope they will understand."

The world's largest retailer says it will stop selling ammunition for handguns and short-barrel rifles - including .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber cartridges, which can be used in military-style weapons - once it sells through its current stock. Those changes are likely to lower the company's market share of ammunition sales from about 20 percent to as little as 6 percent, the company said.

"The basic principle here is that if we don't sell the gun, we are no longer going to sell the ammunition," Dan Barlett, executive vice president of corporate affairs, said in a call with reporters on Tuesday. He did not offer details on how the changes might impact the company's financial performance.

Walmart, which sells guns in about half of its 4,750 U.S. stores, will continue selling long-barrel deer rifles and shot guns, as well as well as other firearms and ammunition for hunting and sports shooting, McMillon said. It will also continue to allow customers to carry concealed firearms at Walmart and Sam's Club store, as long as they have proper permits.

The decision comes after mounting pressure from gun-control advocacy groups, politicians and Walmart's own employees. About 40 white-collar Walmart working in California walked out on the job last month to protest its gun policies.

Walmart, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, has tightened its gun policies over the years. It stopped selling handguns in 1993 (though it continued to do so in Alaska) and phased out assault-style rifles in 2015. Last year, it raised the minimum age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, two weeks after 17 students and teachers were killed in a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

The company's latest measures come after a man with an assault rifle killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3, just days after a Walmart employee in Southaven, Miss., fatally shot two co-workers.

McMillon, who is a gun owner, said the company is also calling on the president and members of Congress to advance "common sense measures," like more stringent background checks.

Washington Post