Walmart and gun makers, drivers of the right wing

Gun production and sales is big business in America and a major driver of the nation’s right wing.

 Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, is also the country’s biggest seller of firearms and ammunition.

The Bushmaster AR-15 model used by Adam Lanza to take the lives of 20 children and six adults last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, is being sold by some 1700 Walmart stores nationwide, though the actual assault weapon used by Lanza has not been connected to the national chain.

Executive vice president Duncan Mac Naughton told shareholders in October that gun sales contribute handsomely to the chain’s overall profit margin, according to the Nation’s George Zornick.

Naughton said that in little over two years gun sales at Walmart stores open for a year or more shot up by 76 percent while ammunition sales increased by 30 percent.

Given Walmart’s aggressive gun sales, the chain’s logo “shouldn’t be a smiley face; it should be an automatic weapon,” Bertha Lewis told the Nation. Lewis has been organizing Walmart workers to protest low wages and poor working conditions this year.

“Don’t tell me that you’re trying to give fresh fruit and vegetables to people so that they can have a healthy life,” Lewis added, “and then on the next counter you have instruments of death.”

Walmart was one of the principal supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) when the rightwing group, made up of many of the nation’s top corporations and Republican state legislators, promoted “stand your ground” laws in states throughout the country. Public pressure has since compelled Walmart to officially drop out of ALEC.

The “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, also known as the “Shoot First” or “Kill at Will” law, was initially invoked by law enforcement to prevent the arrest and prosecution earlier this year of high school student Trayvon Martin’s killer.

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) revealed that Marion Hammer, lobbyist of the National Rifle Association (NRA), pushed the bill through the Florida legislature in 2005.

Hammer then brought the law to the closed door ALEC task force meeting in Texas that summer to become a priority for ALEC state legislators across the country.

According to the NRA at the time, Hammer’s pitch was “unanimously” adopted by the private and public sector members attending the ALEC task force then led by Walmart.

The NRA, for its part, has used ALEC as a key venue to promote bills to bar and impede laws that would protect Americans from gun violence, which in many instances have become law in states across the country.

The NRA has helped protect and expand the market for the firearms sold by the weapons companies that bankroll its lobbying operations.

The People’s World’s Susan Webb reported earlier this week that some of the nation’s biggest gun makers are owned by private equity funds run by Wall Street giants.

The singular mission of these firms is to make quick maximum profit for its investors, at the expense of workers, communities, and working class hunters and gun owners whose interests they falsely claim to champion, Webb noted.

For these Wall Street firms and gun manufacturers in general, military sales have been a large lucrative piece of their business.

In 2011, U.S. corporations sold 75 percent of all arms sold in the international weapons market, some $66 billion out of $85 billion total. Russia was a distant second at $4 billion in sales.

It’s no wonder that these private corporate interests in the business of making and marketing weapons for a profit together with sectors of the military establishment, making up the “military industrial complex” of which former President Dwight Eisenhower warned, play a major role in driving our nation’s foreign policy to the right.

Photo: Ted Swedenburg // CC 2.0


Juan Lopez
Juan Lopez

Juan Lopez is chairman of the Communist Party in northern California and statewide coordinator. He has been a labor and community activist during the nearly forty years he's lived in Oakland, where he and his wife raised three children. He was formerly a member of the Teamsters union and a shop steward.