In recent years, Walmart has amended its policy on gun sales numerous times. First, in 2015, the retailer ceased all sales of AR-15 style rifles. Then in 2018, Walmart raised the minimum age for firearm purchase from 18 to 21. They even briefly removed gun and ammunition displays from stores all across the country in 2020 over concern of civil unrest in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.
All of these changes have Walmart customers wondering what Walmart’s current policy is when it comes to selling guns and allowing customers to bear arms. Does Walmart still sell guns in 2023? Can Walmart customers open or conceal carry weapons while shopping? Keep reading to find out.
Walmart Gun Policy
As it stands, Walmart allows the concealed carry of weapons at their stores in accordance with state laws. This means that as long as you are acting in accordance with the laws of your state, you can conceal carry a weapon while shopping at Walmart.
However, even in states that allow open carry, Walmart shoppers are not allowed to open carry firearms at Walmart under any circumstances.
As reported by NBC News, Walmart first banned open carry of firearms in all of their stores in 2019. This decision came on the heels of two shootings that occurred at Walmart locations in Texas. Shortly after Walmart’s decision, many big-name stores followed suit, including CVS, Walgreens, Aldi, and Publix.
When it comes to gun sales, about half of all Walmart locations in the US still sell firearms and ammunition as of January 2023. However, the selection of weapons is limited compared to what they’re offered in the past.
Walmart ceased all sales of handguns and assault-style rifles in their stores several years ago. This applies to Walmart stores in all states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Open Carry vs. Concealed Carry
According to USConcealedCarry.com, “open carry means to carry a firearm in public in circumstances where the firearm is fully or partially (e.g, holstered) visible to others.”
Conceal carry, on the other hand, means to carry a weapon in a public area while the weapon is not visible to others.
As stated above, Walmart does not allow open carry of weapons in any of their stores, but they do allow the concealed carry of weapons in accordance with state laws.
If a customer is observed openly carrying a firearm at a Walmart location, it is up to the discretion of the store management to decide what to do. They can approach a customer and ask them to leave and return without their weapon. They can also call the authorities if they choose. However, a customer can only be charged or prosecuted for openly carrying a weapon at Walmart if they are in violation of state law.
Walmart Gun Policies By State
The most important thing to remember here is that Walmart has banned open carry of firearms at their stores in every single US state. Regardless of whether you live in Texas, Washington, or Pennsylvania, you cannot technically carry a visible weapon at Walmart.
When it comes to concealed carry, things get more complicated because laws vary significantly from state to state.
To speak generally, concealed carry of firearms is legal in all 50 US states, but the stipulations of these laws vary greatly. For example, some states require permitting and licensure for the concealed carry of weapons while others only require permitting. A handful of states known as “constitutional carry” states do not require permitting or licensure for the possession of firearms in public or private, regardless of whether the weapon is visible or not.
The constitutional carry states include Alaska (for residents only), Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia (for residents only), and Wyoming.
If you live in a state that is not on the above list, you can use this interactive map provided by the United States Concealed Carry Association to find out about your state’s concealed carry laws.
It’s also important to remember that even after studying up on your state’s concealed carry laws, you still need to make sure that you’re in accordance with the policies of each retail store or private business or organization you visit. Private businesses reserve the right to ban firearms on their premises regardless of state concealed carry laws.
Stores That Allow Open Carry
Most major retailers, including Costco, Walmart, Kroger (includes Fred Meyer and QFC), Walgreens, CVS, Target, Albertsons, Publix, Aldi and more either ban firearms on their premises altogether or “kindly request” that customers do not openly carry firearms while shopping.
The list of major retailers that allow open carry is actually quite short. And as gun violence in the US continues to spiral out of control, the list keeps getting shorter.
As of 2023, the only major retailers that allow open carry of firearms are:
- TJ Maxx
- Home Depot