Vox Sentences: Walmart’s gun rollback

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Following the El Paso Walmart shooting, the company takes a stand on gun sales; Hong Kong moves to withdraw a contentious extradition bill.


Walmart ditches (some of) the guns


A Walmart shopping cart.

Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

  • Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced on Tuesday that it will end all handgun ammunition sales and disallow customers from openly carrying guns in both Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, effectively stepping into the gun control debate that’s divided America in the past two decades. [CNN / Nathaniel Meyersohn]
  • The company also moved to stop all handgun sales in Alaska, the last state it offered this option in since the 1990s. It will continue to supply people with long-barrel deer rifles, shotguns, and other hunting gear. [CNBC / Lauren Thomas]
  • The move comes just a month after a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso; other such tragedies also took place in Dayton, Ohio, and Midland and Odessa, Texas. In a statement to his associates, CEO Doug McMillon wrote that “the status quo is unacceptable.” He goes on to say that “as we’ve seen before, these horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades,” and urges Congress to take immediate action. [Walmart Corporate]
  • This isn’t the first time Walmart has responded to gun-induced mass murders in the US. The firm — which is estimated to make up 2 percent of the firearms market and 20 percent of the ammunitions market for Americans today — stopped selling firearms and ammunition to people under 21 following the Parkland shooting, while in 2015 it stopped selling semiautomatic weapons such as the AR-15 rifle. [CNBC / Lauren Thomas and WSJ / Sarah Nassauer]
  • Immediately after Walmart’s announcement, the National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment’s biggest — and often loudest — advocate in the US, released a statement calling the firm’s move “shameful” and predicting that customers will soon opt for other retailers who respect “America’s fundamental freedoms.” [Twitter / NRA]
  • However, other companies praised the move. Walking in Walmart’s steps, the grocery store chain Kroger said Wednesday it will also ask its customers not to display their firearms while shopping. [Washington Post / Taylor Telford and Abha Bhattarai]
  • Despite pressure, the White House and Congress have been slow in acting on gun reform. After the back-to-back shootings in Ohio and Texas, President Trump said he would press for aggressive gun legislation, though he later returned to his usual comments on mental health. [NYT / Maggie Haberman, Annie Karni, and Danny Hakim]
  • Vox’s German Lopez writes that America’s gun problem is unique in that the public and research support gun control but legislation is often impossible to pass. He further writes that “no matter how you look at the data, more guns mean more gun deaths,” all in a nation that leads globally on both fronts. [Vox / German Lopez]

A win for the Hong Kong protesters

  • After three months of people protesting dramatically in the streets, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced on Wednesday she will withdraw a controversial extradition bill, giving in to one of the demonstrators’ five core demands. The bill would have allowed for extraditions from the former British colony to mainland China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party. [NYT / Austin Ramzy and Elaine Yu]
  • The decision marks a clear victory for the protesters, though it remains uncertain whether the marches will end. The protesters’ other demands include greater democracy for the city and the formation of an independent commission to investigate police conduct. [CNN / James Griffiths]
  • Lam’s announcement comes a few days after a Reuters special report detailed a leaked recording in which the Hong Kong leader admitted that she would quit if she had a choice, and that she’s caused “unforgivable havoc.” The unrest is the biggest political crisis in the country since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. [Reuters / Greg Torode, James Pomfret, and Anne Marie Roantree]
  • Lam responded to the leaked recording saying she never tendered her resignation to Beijing and that she and her team will stay on “to help Hong Kong in a very difficult situation.” [CNN / Julia Hollingsworth and Bianca Britton]
  • Several reports from American media and Hong Kong residents argue that Lam’s move is too little, too late, and that it will not be enough to appease the movement. [Reuters / James Pomfret, Farah Master, and Jessie Pang and NYT / Editorial Board]

Miscellaneous

  • Michigan today became the first state to prohibit flavored e-cigarettes. The move comes after the state health department declared youth vaping a public health emergency and as evidence mounts that vaping can pose serious health risks. [Washington Post / Laurie McGinley]
  • Ariana Grande is suing the fashion retailer Forever 21 for $10 million after the firm used unlicensed imagery from the artist’s “7 Rings” music video and a look-alike model in a social media campaign without her or her team’s permission. [THR / Eriq Gardner]
  • YouTube knowingly violated a children’s privacy protection law by collecting user information from kids in order to track their online behavior and tailor ads to their preferences, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday. As a result, Google, which owns the platform, will pay a record $170 million penalty. [CNN / Brian Fung]
  • The state of New York sponsored a statewide survey to help pick its license plate design. But was the contest rigged? Four out of five designs feature the Statue of Liberty, along with the state’s official motto, “Excelsior.” The fifth? An image of the Cuomo Bridge, “hardly a tourist stop,” named after the very governor leading the survey. [NYT / Jesse McKinley]

Verbatim

“The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.” [Students at a Catholic school in Nashville are no longer able to check out Harry Potter books from the library after a pastor advised administrators to remove them / The Tennessean]


Listen to this: Missing history

Kids don’t learn much about American slavery in school. Professor Hasan Kwame Jeffries says students deserve the real story. [Spotify | Apple Podcasts]


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