Following the mass shooting in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on Aug. 3, employees are being directed to take down advertising for violent video games—and are walking out demanding an end to gun sales.
The gunman reportedly posted his manifesto detailing his racist beliefs and motivations, including describing the gun he’d use. But many in news media and politics have been pointing fingers at anything but white nationalism and easy access to guns.
Second only to the stigmatizing blame placed on mental illness, the most common scapegoat is violent video games. People keep blaming games for mass shootings, and this time is no different: Trump blamed “gruesome and grisly video games” and how easy it is for “troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence.” Yet pediatrician and health researcher Dr. Aaron Carroll demonstrated recently with this graph that there is no correlation between video game spending and gun deaths.
— Aaron E. Carroll (@aaronecarroll) August 5, 2019
The attack in El Paso was the second shooting at a Walmart in a week. The first happened in Mississippi on July 30 when 39-year-old Martez Tarrell Abram, a Walmart employee, shot and killed two co-workers. According to Complex, Walmart is one of the world’s largest retailers of guns and ammunition.
A growing number of employees are calling for that to change. Complex reports that employees in California tried to organize a walkout on Wednesday, but only about 40 participated. According to Kotaku, some employees who called for a strike were suspended from being able to use the company’s internal communication systems. A Change.org petition demanding Walmart CEO Doug McMillon stop the sale of guns has reached over 50,000 signatures in less than three days.
Walmart is reportedly instructing employees to take down “any signing or displays that contain violent images or aggressive behavior.” According to Kotaku, the memos being distributed focus on games, specifically listing “consoles that show a demo of violent video games,” and signs “referencing combat or third-person shooter video games.”
A Walmart spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the company has “no plans at this time” to stop selling guns or change its policies.
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