Attorney General Announces Temporary Halt of Firearms Sales at California Wal-Mart Stores

Selling to Prohibited Individuals Prompts Pledge to Provide Additional Training

Friday, April 4, 2003
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that Wal-Mart had agreed to immediately suspend the sale of firearms at its 118 California stores following inspections of stores in the Central Valley and Sacramento areas that revealed more than 490 violations of state laws, including selling guns to two felons.

"Public safety is severely jeopardized when gun dealers provide firearms to people who are prohibited from possessing, much less purchasing, them," Lockyer said. "Wal-Mart acted promptly and responsibly by agreeing to immediately suspend the sales of firearms in their California stores until corrective action can be taken, including the proper training of store employees on state firearms laws."

Investigations conducted since March 18 by the Attorney General's Division of Firearms at six separate Wal-Mart stores in the Sacramento and Central Valley areas uncovered hundreds of violations. Stores where violations were reported included the Wal-Mart stores in Turlock, Merced, Los Banos, Madera and two in Sacramento.

Violations included releasing firearms before the 10-day waiting period and background checks were completed; failing to verify the identity of the purchasers through thumbprints and by scanning driver's licenses; failing to document the sale of a firearms safety device with the firearm; and delivering firearms to the buyer despite directives from the Firearms Division to not sell to the individual because of prohibitions.

State and federal law prohibit selling guns to individuals with felony convictions or who have been convicted of specified violent misdemeanors, such as domestic violence offenses. Also prohibited from purchasing firearms are individuals who are the subject of restraining orders and those with mental conditions that make them a danger to themself or others.

Among the violations discovered, investigators found employees at the Los Banos store illegally sold firearms to two felons. One had been convicted of spousal abuse and the other was convicted of felony drug charges. In addition, employees at the Los Banos store were found to have twice released firearms to potential buyers before the 10-day waiting period had expired. In three cases, the employees had released a firearm 30 days after the window in which a buyer who applies to buy a gun must take possession of it.

# # #