In the aftermath of recent shootings at two of its stores in Texas and Mississippi, Walmart has instructed employees to remove in-store ads, displays, and demos for violent videogames. This comes after President Donald Trump condemned “the glorification of violence in our society,” including “gruesome and grisly videogames that are now commonplace.”
As reported by Vice, a photo of a memo sent to store workers emerged online with instructions to “remove signing and displays referencing violence.”
On the list included remarks that advised, “Turn off or unplug any videogame display consoles that show a demo of violent games, specifically Playstation and Xbox units… Cancel any events promoting combat style or third-person shooter games that may be scheduled in Electronics. Verify that no movies depicting violence are playing in Electronics.” The memo also extends to “hunting season videos.”
“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our videogame assortment,” Walmart spokesperson Tara House told EW in a statement.
When asked if this move has anything to do with Trump, Walmart declined to comment. The company also declined to comment when asked about the numerous accredited studies published in the past that disprove a causal link between violent videogames and violent acts.
As for the sale of actual guns in Walmart stores, there has been “no change” in the company policy, according to a Walmart statement given to USA Today. House told EW in regards to this matter, “We are focused on assisting our associates and their families, as well as supporting the community, as we continue a thoughtful and thorough review of our policies.”
On July 30, a shooter described as a disgruntled employee killed two colleagues at a Southaven, Mississippi Walmart and injured a police officer. On Aug. 3, a separate gunman opened fire at the Walmart location in the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 individuals and wounding 24 others. Another mass shooting followed in Dayton, Ohio on Aug. 4 that left nine people dead and 27 injured.
In addressing the tragedies at the Walmart locations, the company’s chief executive officer, Doug McMillon, said, “We are a learning organization, and, as you can imagine, we will work to understand the many important issues that arise from El Paso and Southaven, as well as those that have been raised in the broader national discussion around gun violence. We will be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and we will act in a way that reflects the best values and ideals of our company, with a focus on serving the needs of our customers, associates and communities.”
As Trump mentioned a crack down on violent entertainment and a push to deal with mental illness, Entertainment Software Association, a trade group for the videogame industry, issued a response.
“As we shared at the White House videogame meeting in March 2018, numerous scientific studies have established that there is no causal connection between videogames and violence,” it read, in part. “More than 165 million Americans enjoy videogames, and billions of people play videogames worldwide. Yet other societies, where videogames are played as avidly, do not contend with the tragic levels of violence that occur in the U.S.”