A memo regarding the sign removal circulated on social media after two mass shootings last week, including a rampage that killed 22 people in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.
“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment,” Walmart spokesman Tara House confirmed to Yahoo Finance.
Apparently Walmart is telling its employees to take down displays that show violent video games, specifically shooters, as well as movies and hunting videos. pic.twitter.com/2N3t4B86tf— Kenneth Shepard (@shepardcdr) August 7, 2019
The memo, which focuses on video games, movies, and hunting videos, was first reported on by USA Today. Some may argue that Walmart’s decision to remove “gruesome” images is purely symbolic, especially since there’s no clear link between violent video games and criminal violence including mass shootings.
The retailer is one of America’s biggest sellers of guns and ammunition, and to be sure, it has taken some steps to curb gun violence. In February 2018, Walmart, along with Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS), raised the age for buying guns to 21 and stopped selling assault-style weapons in their stores. But critics, including The New York Times writer Andrew Ross Sorkin, argue that it should now be taking more of a lead to curb gun violence.
The latest move to eliminate images of violence in its store appears to reflect prominent Republicans’ arguments that blame mass shootings on video games rather than gun themselves. That includes President Donald Trump, who said, “We must first stop the glorification of violence in this country. This includes the gruesome and violent video games that are now commonplace.”
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Fox news, “The idea of these video games to dehumanize individuals, to have a game of shooting individuals and others — I've always felt that it's a problem for future generations.”
Calder McHugh is an Associate Editor at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @Calder_McHugh.