If you're an advocate of the "free market" — and of very limited interference in private business from the government — you can't pick and choose what types of meddling you'll tolerate, while lambasting others. Merriam Webster identifies that as "hypocrisy."

Widespread outrage is likely in store for Walmart, which announced it would stop selling short-barrel rifle and handgun ammunition, and in Alaska, it will no longer sell handguns. The decision was spurred by the recent spate of mass shootings, two of which happened in Walmart stores. To that end, Walmart has also opted to ban the open carrying of firearms.

Doug McMillion, CEO of Walmart, issued a statement, explaining that executives listened to people within the corporation and outside of it, and they concluded that "the status quo is unacceptable." McMillion added that customers with "concealed carry permits" will be welcome, and that Walmart will share its high-tech background check system with other businesses. And finally, he encouraged the nation's leaders to "strengthen background checks and remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger."

It's doubtful that his latter request will be honored, and indeed, many would argue such measures would bear no fruit, since existing laws aren't being enforced. But that's not the issue as it pertains to the "free market" and the government's tendency to butt into private business.

Few would argue businesses have the right to bar entrance to people without shirts or shoes, or who are drunk or obnoxious. Most of them ban drugs and alcohol, and even service animals that aren't properly trained and either pose a threat to customers or defecate or urinate on the floor. Why, then, do these businesses not also have the right to tell customers to leave their guns in their cars?

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, many folks in these parts toted guns everywhere, but it would never occur to them to carry one into a store – if for no other reason than the owner might see it as a threat, and pull from under the counter a piece of his own. Concealed carry is another matter; we haven't yet reached the point that retail outlets set up metal detectors at their doors, though that day may be coming. Almost all amusement parks have already taken that step, and they expressly forbid weapons on their premises.

If Walmart no longer sells certain types of ammunition, so what? It can be purchased from smaller, homegrown gun shops. If certain stores, churches, parks and other areas won't let gun owners come in packing, what's the big deal? They can either leave the gun in the car, or take their business to a more weapons-friendly environment.

Walmart made its decision; customers can take it or leave it. If a baker can refuse to sell cakes to gay couples, then a retailer can also refuse to allow guns on its property. Now, the chips will fall where they may.

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Compiled by the Editorial Board for Tahlequah Daily Press, a CNHI News Service publication.

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