Fri. 11:30 a.m.: Walmart pulls violent game displays; no change on gun sales

Springfield police respond to a Walmart in Springfield, Mo., Thursday afternoon, Aug. 8, 2019, after reports of a man with a weapon in the store. Police in Springfield, Missouri, say they have arrested an armed man who showed up the Walmart store wearing body armor, sending panicked shoppers fleeing the store. (Harrison Keegan/The Springfield News-Leader via AP)

Walmart is removing from its stores nationwide signs, displays or videos that depict violence following a mass shooting at one of its stores in Texas, though it has not changed its policy on gun sales.

The retailer instructed employees in an internal memo to remove any marketing material, turn off or unplug video game consoles that show violent games — specifically Xbox and PlayStation consoles, and to monitor and turn off any violence depicted on screens in its electronics departments.

Employees were also ordered to turn off hunting season videos in the sporting goods department where guns are sold.

Under the heading: “Immediate Action,” employees were instructed to “Review your store for any signing or displays that contain violent images or aggressive behavior. Remove from the salesfloor or turn off these items immediately.”

“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week,” said spokeswoman Tara House in an email to The Associated Press on Friday.

The company’s policy on sales of video games that depict violence has not changed, nor has its policy on gun sales.

Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Walmart Inc. banned sales of firearms and ammunition to people younger than 21. It had stopped selling AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons in 2015, citing weak sales.

There is no known link between violent video games and violent acts.

Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University who focuses on video games, found in his research that men who commit severe acts of violence actually play violent video games less than the average male. About 20% were interested in violent video games, compared with 70% of the general population, he explained in his 2017 book “Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong.”

The killings in Texas, followed by another in Dayton, Ohio, just hours later that left nine dead, have put the country on edge.

On Thursday, five days after the El Paso shooting, panicked shoppers fled a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri, after a man carrying a rifle and wearing body armor walked around the store before being stopped by an off-duty firefighter.

No shots were fired and the man was arrested after surrendering.

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