Hypocritical Rhetoric on the “Right”

Walmart in the U.S. has decided to play the virtue signal game by vowing to stop selling certain guns and ammunition, and even asking that customers in states with laws permitting the open carrying of firearms cease carrying their guns openly at Walmart stores. In other words, they are choosing to treat everyone who owns a gun as guilty until proven innocent, although the percentage of legal gun owners who commit gun crimes is probably even lower than the percentage of Washington elite gun control advocates who shop at Walmart.

In response to Walmart’s choice to cater to the gun control lobby, many self-described conservatives are up in arms (no pun intended), as exemplified by this headline at Right Scoop: “BREAKING: Walmart announces NEW gun control policies including NO more handgun ammunition.”

Walmart announces “gun control policies”? Really? Gun control refers to government action against firearm possession. Since when is Walmart a government department? Do they have the authority to create gun control policies? Of course not. They are not “controlling guns.” They are choosing to move away from selling guns in their stores, which is their prerogative as a private business. Last time I checked, McDonald’s was not giving away handguns with Happy Meals. Is this a case of Ronald McDonald issuing “gun control policies”? Or is it simply a corporate decision not to stock a particular product that no private company is in any way obliged to sell?

In addition to being unnecessarily inflammatory — Walmart has no control over the gun market, apart from their own involvement in it — the people promoting this position had better be careful what they wish for. For they also express outrage at politicized attempts to force private bakers to bake cakes for homosexual weddings. 

“But wait,” object the progressives! “You are a bakery, and you sell wedding cakes. Therefore you have to sell me a homosexual wedding cake.” 

“No, they don’t have to sell any such thing,” reply conservatives, correctly. But neither, then, does Walmart have to sell guns. This is a simple and profoundly significant issue of property rights. Do private business owners give up their rights as citizens merely by opening a business, such that their conscience-based choices about how to conduct their companies’ business are overridden by someone else’s social policy agenda? If you answer “No,” then you have to answer “No” for any company’s decision about how to conduct its business, whether you happen to like any given decision or not.

So feel free to criticize Walmart for cynically bending to the will of the anti-gun lobby. (Imagine that! A huge international corporate entity that isn’t motivated to do what’s right, but rather what they think will help the bottom line and the corporate image. Who would have guessed?) But don’t accuse them of violating the right to bear arms, which is something they simply do not have the power to do, just as private social media companies have no power to violate your right to free speech.

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