A group of gun violence survivors are set to protest Tuesday outside a Danbury Walmart to demand the national retailer stop the sale of assault weapons and munitions.
The protesters plan to deliver a petition signed by over 250,000 citizens nationwide urging Walmart, the nations largest gun retailer, to halt sales immediately, according to a press release by the survivor group SumOfUs.
“If Walmart wants to call itself a family-friendly store, it needs to stop profiting off dangerous weapons designed to kill large numbers of people,” said Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive director of SumOfus. “Walmart has an opportunity to help put an end to these tragedies and we demand that it join us in saying enough.”
The letter, drafted and signed by shooting survivors and relatives of shooting victims from the tragedies at Virginia Tech, Tucson, AZ and Aurora, CO, will be delivered at Walmart, 67 Newtown Rd., Danbury, on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 11 a.m.
Below is the full letter to be delivered:
“Dear Mr. Duke:
For families across Newtown, Conn., this past holiday season was not a time of joy and celebration but rather a period of profound grief and mourning. They spent their days burying loved ones and their nights wondering why. Children’s gifts remained unopened under the Christmas tree. The empty seat at the dinner table was a somber reminder that this nightmare was in fact reality.
While we cannot imagine the particular horror that the Newtown families have experienced, we are regrettably all too familiar with the painful impact that senseless shootings can have on everyday Americans. As survivors of gun violence and the families of its victims, we write to seek your help and urge you to act so that others do not have to suffer as we have.
For years, your company has reaped massive profits from the sale of military-style assault weapons, including the Bushmaster Patrolman’s Carbine M4A3 Rifle – a semiautomatic firearm similar to the gun used to murder 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Weapons like these are designed to kill large numbers of people as quickly as possible, and they are available for purchase in Wal-Mart retail locations across the country.
It is puzzling why a family-friendly store like Wal-Mart would sell such weapons just aisles away from the strollers and school supplies. But what is perhaps even more puzzling is why your company never fulfilled its promise to refrain from selling assault weapons. It was only eight years ago, afterall, that Wal-Mart was hailed as a model of corporate responsibility for giving its assurances to U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein that the store would not carry these guns after the federal assault weapons ban expired.
Erik Winborn, Wal-Mart’s Vice President for National Government Relations at the time, said in the September 2004 announcement: “Wal-Mart only sells firearms and ammunition appropriate for sporting or hunting purposes, and that will continue to be our focus. We will not be carrying assault weapons.”
Yet any Wal-Mart shopper could easily tell by looking around the store that Mr. Winborn’s statement is simply not true. Assault weapons of all brands and models continue to adorn your shelves, from Sig Sauer M400s to Colt LE6920s.
We know the horrific capacity of these weapons to wreak havoc on our communities because we have witnessed it firsthand. They have no place in our streets and in our homes, and we strongly insist that you honor your 2004 pledge to ensure they have no place in your stores either. Doing so will help save countless lives and prevent other families from enduring the pain we carry with us every day.
Over the last several years, you shamefully decided that your company’s earnings were more important than keeping your word. Today, we appeal to you not as business leaders but as Americans. Wal-Mart should do the right thing and put families first, lest the next mass shooting is carried out with an assault weapon sold in your stores.”