In the wake of the tragic back-to-back shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, Walmart has asked its employees to remove “any signing or displays that contain violent images or aggressive behavior” from stores across the country.
VICE first reported on the memo, which was headed “Immediate Action: Remove Signing and Displays Referencing Violence.” It requests employees take down a range of promotions, including demos for violent games, and any signs that reference “combat or third-person shooter video games.”
Apparently Walmart is telling its employees to take down displays that show violent video games, specifically shooters, as well as movies and hunting videos. pic.twitter.com/2N3t4B86tf
— Kenneth Shepard (@shepardcdr) August 7, 2019
A number of people claiming to be Walmart employees have also come forward on Reddit to verify the VICE report, while journalist Kenneth Shepard also shared a copy of the memo to Twitter, which you can see above.
One anonymous Walmart employee told VICE:
I went into work yesterday and they handed me a copy of the instructions to remove the violent signage and gaming displays. And I immediately threw it away because it’s obviously a way to shift the blame from the real problem regarding the mass shootings. I didn’t get to confirm this yesterday but they aren’t doing anything about the sales of guns and ammo in the store.
This memo comes on the back of two recent shootings in America that took place in Walmart stores. On July 30 in Southaven, Mississippi, a gunman killed two co-workers and wounded an officer, and on August 3 the Walmart shooting in El Paso left 22 dead and 24 wounded.
Following El Paso and Dayton last weekend, President Donald Trump, along with a number of other politicians, condemned “gruesome and violent video games” for contributing to the “glorification of violence in our society.”
Trump’s comments were met with widespread criticism from across the video game industry. The ESA, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime, and God of War director Cory Barlog were among those who blasted the President’s words as “disrespectful” and “irresponsible.”
Barlog wrote on Twitter:
Wait…that’s it??? Violent video games and mental health? Not the high powered weapons of war being sold to civilians by the millions that are actually being USED to carry out these acts of domestic terror??
Just like Trump’s comments, Walmart’s memo on violent video games has been accused of pointing away from the real problem, though some have argued that the memo’s request is a completely reasonable tactic, and simply an attempt to avoid appearing insensitive in the wake of gun-related tragedies
However, others have been quick to point out that the retailer continues to sell guns, and there are zero mentions in the memo of removing actual weapons from sale. It could very well be argued that leaving actual weapons on the shelves would cause more distress than a sign for the latest Call of Duty.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.