Maybe Corporations Are People, Too?

Is there finally reason for some optimism on the gun front?

Not because Congress and the President are finally acting, but because of the private sector?

The list of deadliest mass shootings in the United States in the last two years is too many for me to list in a short time. 

No one of those incidents spurred legislative change.  

Not the slaughter of 20 school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in CT in 2012.

Nor the execution of 58 on the Las Vegas strip.

Or 17 students and staff shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

And the 11 killed at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. 

All we got from government was thoughts and prayers.

 But this week, America’s largest retailer and largest private employer did do something.  

Walmart C.E.O., Doug McMillon, surprised many with a company memo that announced--

- it was limiting sales on ammunition for short-barrel rifles handguns
- getting out of the handgun market altogether
- and discouraging "open carry" in its stores except for law enforcement.

McMillon’s action followed an open letter in The New York Times immediately after last month’s shooting which left 22 dead at an El Paso, TX Walmart, written by my next guest, Andrew Ross Sorkin.

In the letter, titled, "Dear Walmart C.E.O.: You Have the Power to Curb Gun Violence. Do It.'

Sorkin wrote; “What happened over the weekend was not your fault -  but it is your moral responsibility to see that it stops. The legally purchased weapons that were used in the mass shootings did not come from Walmart. But guns in America travel through a manufacturing and supply chain that relies on banks like Wells Fargo, software companies like Microsoft, and delivery and logistics giants like Federal Express and UPS. All of those companies, in turn, count Walmart as a crucial client.”

The NRA called Walmart’s action “shameful.” In a Tweet they said, “It is shameful to see @Walmart succumb to the pressure of the anti-gun elites. Lines at Walmart will soon be replaced by lines at other retailers who are more supportive of America’s fundamental freedoms.” 

But those “other” retailers will presumably not include CVS, Walgreens, Kroger's or Wegman's which have now joined the list of businesses requesting that customers refrain from openly carrying firearms in their stores even when state laws allow it.  That list already included Starbucks, Wendy’s and Target which have all asked customers not to openly carry guns in stores unless they’re law enforcement officers.

There’s also Dick’s Sporting Goods which stopped selling assault-style weapons, high-capacity magazines and ‘bump stocks,’ and ended sales of any firearms to people under 21.

And Citigroup and Bank of America who have said they’re no longer going to finance or advise gun manufacturers.

Also…Black Rock – the largest investor in the world – sent out a letter last year asking tough questions of gun manufacturers and retailers about their practices.

Maybe Mitt Romney was right when he said corporations are people too.