Over this past weekend, Wal-Mart announced that it will no longer sell firearms at about 1,000 of its 3,200 stores. This news was greeted with the expected yowls from the expected sources that:

  • Americans are finally losing interest in guns.
  • Wal-Mart is betraying a major segment of their customers.
  • Wal-Mart is finally acting like a responsible citizen.

I think it means that Wal-Mart is obeying one of the inexorable laws of commerce, which states that you carry in your stores those items that sell best, and if people would rather buy jockstraps than firearms, why, clear the shelves for all the new athletic supporters.

Or there might be another factor. Last December, I went into the Wal-Mart in Keyser, WV to buy a Styrofoam cooler to transport the last earthly remains of Bambi’s mom. Five different Wal-Mart employees (all friendly and helpful) could not agree whether they had Styrofoam coolers, or where in the store they might be. It turned out they were out of stock.

If I had that much trouble buying something as simple as a Styrofoam cooler, what would have happened if I’d tried to buy a gun? Probably I’d still be there. Maybe that’s why people no longer buy guns at some Wal-Marts.