Walmart and Guns

Walmart and Guns

In the wake of the assault-weapon murders at El Paso’s mega Walmart, America’s number-one gun seller and largest private-sector employer has come under justifiable criticism for its gun policies. Roughly half of Walmart’s 4,750 stores sell guns, and the company announced on Monday that that policy would not change. It also announced that it wouldn’t adopt a no-open-carry policy for its stores, which means that anyone in a state that permits the open carry of firearms—like Texas—can sashay through a Walmart brandishing a gun.

Not surprisingly, some Walmart employees have voiced apprehensions about that policy in the aftermath of Monday’s mass murders. “I’m looking around the store, thinking, where can I hide if something happens,” a customer-service employee at a Los Angeles-area Walmart told The Washington Post. “We’re all afraid we’re going to die.”

Getting their employer to prohibit open carry in its stores would be just the sort of proposal Walmart workers could present to their bosses if they had a union. But Walmart’s position on unions was made clear when the butchers in one Texas store endeavored to form a union some years back. The company responded by shuttering its meat department in that store, in every store in Texas, and in every store in the states surrounding Texas. 

The grievances that lead workers to seek a union have never been only economic; sometimes, they’re about their concern for life and limb. Such would likely be the case at Walmart today if our labor law actually allowed workers to organize. A timely reminder that American business’s rabid opposition to worker power not only has given us four decades of wage stagnation but that sometimes, it kills.