In the wake of the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook, people have understandably had a variety of knee-jerk reactions. Some have responded by holding their kids closer and giving teachers across the nation appreciative hugs and letters. Others have clung to their rifles for fear of having them ripped away by those that are once again shaking their fists in the air at gun owners, demanding that this is the last price citizens will pay for their second amendment rights. American super-chain, Walmart, has also had an immediate response of their own.
Today the multinational corporation pulled their .223-calibre Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle, the very weapon Adam Lanza used to gun down his innocent victims, from their online stores. While some have applauded the retail conglomerate for refusing to distribute this particular rifle, I feel there is no cause for congratulatory back-slapping or self-satisfied praise. This appears to be no more than posturing, a quick self-defensive PR move; a preemptive strike before the community at large comes down on Walmart for too easily doling out these killing machines. In fact, this type of pandering borders on offensive.
Taking down this rifle while many of its sister weapons still sit on the shelves ready to execute the same type of damage is not only ineffectual, it is irresponsible and demeaning to those that understand the gravity of the crime committed Friday morning. This possible attempt to quell the fear and anger of those that see the inherent danger in a weapon that can fire off 45 rounds a minute by only taking down the specific gun that was used in this latest sickening display of assault rifles’ power is meaningless.
This feels all too reminiscent of Walmart’s response to the 1999 Columbine shooting. Following that massacre, the chain stopped its sale of a video game that encouraged bullying after the media began focusing its attention on the effects of violent game play. Just as that did nothing to truly address the underlying issue of non-virtual bullying, their most recent reaction does nothing to tend to the greater issue of the ease with which Lanza was able to get his hands on his weapon of choice; and it altogether ignores the overarching concern which is: why would anyone who is not in the military ever need access to this type of gun? It is not used to hunt deer. It is not used to hurriedly defend your self from an intruder. It is used for mass killing.
So, while Walmart might be attempting to sidestep any negative association with the murders at Newtown by subtly tiptoeing out with this certain rifle, the fact remains that there are plenty more to choose from that will do the exact same thing. This is truly like- pardon the expression- putting a band-aid on a bullet wound, and it comes off as nothing more than insulting.
By: Darianne Dobbie