Federal law allows gun dealers to sell a gun once a background check is passed or after a three-day extended check fails to turn up the information necessary to resolve a “delay” from the system. It was in the latter scenario that alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof was able to purchase his gun.
But if he had walked into a Walmart to make his purchase and received a “delay,” the retail giant would have refused to hand a gun over to him. This is because Walmart’s background check policy exceeds federal requirements.
The retailer only sells a gun if the purchaser passes the check outright.
According to The Trace, Walmart adopted this more stringent policy in 2002 and now “refuses to sell a gun without a concrete all-clear from the federal system.”
Besides requiring an undisputed “pass” before a gun is sold, Walmart also requires associates who sell guns in stores to undergo special training and a background check themselves. They also record all sales and put a system in place “to trace guns sold by the company that are later linked to crimes.”
Ironically, although Walmart had nothing to do with the June 17 Charleston shooting, part of Senator Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) post-Charleston gun control push included the random assertion that Walmart associates could not sell guns “responsibly.” He said, “I’m not terribly confident that a 21-year-old Walmart clerk is going to sell guns responsibly or be able to give customers the kind of advice they need on how to responsibly use that gun.”
However, it turns out Murphy was wrong, and someone like Roof would not have been able to buy a firearm at the Walmart gun counter.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.