Reporter on mission to buy firearm from Walmart shocked to learn it’s much harder than ‘expected’

(Image: Wikimedia)

Dana Loesch took a swipe at critics and anti-gun activists by noting how the current system of background checks actually works when implemented.

The conservative talk show host and former spokesperson for the National Rifle Association shared with her more than one million Twitter followers the story of a reporter who tried to buy a firearm at a Virginia Walmart twice but failed.

Hayley Peterson, a senior correspondent for Business Insider, recounted her challenging experience in trying to purchase a gun at a Virginia Walmart, following the mass shootings earlier this month which left many demanding the retail chain suspend selling firearms in its stores.

Peterson was unsuccessful in her quest to buy any weapon, finding the process “more complicated than I expected” as she concluded that Walmart “takes gun sales and security pretty seriously.”

The reporter’s intention was to try to purchase a gun “as part of an investigation into the placement, selection, marketing, security, and sales of firearms in Walmart’s stores,” she wrote in the report published Wednesday.

The company has said it has no plans to stop selling firearms in its stores despite a petition with over 130,000 signatures to “protest Walmart’s profit from the sale of firearms and ammunition” and demand the stores stop selling them in the wake of the shootings at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and in Southaven, Mississippi.

“I searched and Google on August 13 to find out which of the 10 Walmart stores near me sold guns, and I failed to come up with any definitive answers,” Peterson reported, noting that the company has said about half of its 4,700 US stores sell guns.

After the online search turned up nothing useful, the reporter tried to make calls and question employees about which location she should visit to purchase a gun.

“I figured that employees at any one of Walmart’s stores near me would know which locations sold guns,” she wrote. “I was wrong.”

Peterson reported:

Over an hour and a half, I placed more than a dozen calls to multiple stores, waited on hold for a combined 40 minutes, and got through to a human only three times. Three Walmart employees told me they didn’t know which stores sold guns in the area.

One person referred me to Walmart’s main customer-service line. I called that number and spoke with someone who said he also couldn’t help me.


A customer-service representative suggested Peterson call each individual store to find which one sold firearms, a time-consuming process she had already attempted. She finally found a Walmart Supercenter about 30 minutes away in Chesterfield, Virginia. But she was about to find that the challenge was only just getting started.

“The firearms at Walmart were locked inside a case and secured to one another with zip ties attached to a metal cord,” Peterson noted.

“Only certain employees can open the case and handle the firearms. These include sporting-goods associates or salaried managers who have passed both an enhanced background check and online training provided by Walmart, the company told me. The store employees abided by these rules while I was there,” she added.

(File photo: YouTube screenshot)

The reporter revealed that the selection at the store she visited was limited compared to nearby gun stores and there were no handguns available as Walmart stopped selling them in the 1990’s and “removed semiautomatic rifles, such as the AR-15, from stores in 2015.”

“There were no signs promoting or advertising the guns,” Peterson reported, but noted that there were other signs about laws related to gun sales and that the area was being recorded.

Peterson made a return trip to the store when her first attempt was unsuccessful because a trained employee was not on hand. Two days later, she paid for a background check to be conducted and completed a form titled “Department of State Police Virginia Firearms Transaction Record.”

“The seller told me that my background check would likely be completed within a few minutes after I finished the paperwork. Once the purchase was finalized, an employee would walk the gun out to my car with me,” she wrote.

However, that was not to be as Peterson had moved since obtaining her driver’s license and the address didn’t match her current home address. She was instructed to return with a government-issued document with her correct address in order to complete the sale.

“At this point, I decided to give up on buying a gun at Walmart,” she wrote. “I had invested several hours across two days on this. If I were actually in the market for a rifle, I would have gone to a local gun shop instead after about five minutes of trying to figure out which Walmart stores sold guns.”

Peterson noted how several of Walmart’s gun-sales policies went beyond federal requirements, citing remarks made last week by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.

“We videotape the point of sale for firearms, only allow certain associates to sell firearms, and secure firearms in a locking case with individual locks, among other measures,” McMillon said, adding that sales are made after a “green light” on a background check while federal regulations require the absence of a “red light” after three business days.

Twitter users reacted to Peterson’s chronicle and agreed with Loesch that the “system works” if the protocol is followed.


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