Following last week’s horrible tragedy at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas — where an armed gunman killed 22 people and wounded 24 others — the company has sent out notices to employees requesting them to remove “any signing or displays that contain violent images or aggressive behavior” from the sales floor, including “violent games, specifically PlayStation or Xbox units” and electronics department events for “combat style or third-person shooter games,” as well as action movie scenes and hunting season videos.
“I went into work yesterday and they handed me a copy of the instructions to remove the violent signage and gaming displays,” an anonymous Walmart told VICE. “And I immediately threw it away because it’s obviously a way to shift the blame from the real problem regarding the mass shootings. I didn’t get to confirm this yesterday but they aren’t doing anything about the sales of guns and ammo in the store.”
The move comes in the wake of President Trump’s comments on the massacre, where he — in spite of evidence to the contrary — blamed “gruesome and grisly video games” in part, alongside mental health, for the mass shooting epidemic in America. Trump’s comments have reignited long-standing arguments as to whether or not video games cause violence, largely deflecting the conversation away from other potential causes of the pestilence of mass shootings festering across the US, such as lack of gun control legislation or a growing surge of American white nationalism (the ideology with which the El Paso shooter identified).
In spite of employee and advocate pleas, Walmart has done nothing to curb its sales of guns and ammunition, telling USA Today that “there’s no change in [gun] policy” following the tragedy in El Paso. While there is a connection between firearm manufacturers and gamers whom they see as potential customers, it is worth remembering that the mass shooting epidemic is unique to America among First World countries, and that countless other nations with equivalent or higher video game consumption per capita — including Germany, the UK, Australia, France, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the Netherlands — have far lower rates of gun violence.
Walmart storefront image source: Time Magazine
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