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Walmart to stop selling AR-15 rifles citing lack of demand

Walmart, the largest firearms retailer in the U.S., has announced it will stop selling semi-automatic weapons because of lack of demand, not political pressure.

The AR-15 has been used at multiple mass shootings, including at Sandy Hook elementary school

In this July 26, 2012, file photo, an AR-15-style rifle is displayed at the Firing-Line indoor range and gun shop in Aurora, Colo. (Alex Brandon/AP )

If you live in the U.S. and your Walmart shopping list included milk, eggs, and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, you might be disappointed by the retailer's decision to discontinue sales of semi-automatic weapons.

On Wednesday, the largest firearm seller in the U.S. announced it will stop selling these weapons because of lack of demand, not repeated political pressure to remove the weapons from store shelves. 

The AR-15 in particular has been used at multiple mass shootings, including the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school, in Newtown, Conn. and at the 2012 Colorado theatre shooting.

"There wasn't a whole lot of demand for those products so we replaced them with products we have seen customers coming into purchase it," Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said to Fortune. However, it will continue selling ammunition for AR-15s. 

Sporting rifles

This class of firearms, which look like the military-grade M-16 rifle, are called modern sporting rifles and were sold in less than a third of its U.S. stores. They will be replaced by shotguns and other hunting weapons.

Modern sporting rifles are among the most popular guns sold in the U.S., according to the National Shooting Sports Association. 

"This happens to get more attention because of what the product is. The decision was completely based on what customers are buying and what they want," Lundberg told Quartz, asserting that there was no political motivation behind the decision.

However, in 2013 Walmart representatives did discuss firearms policies with former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, writes the Guardian.

Lori Haas, spokeswoman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, supports Walmart's decision but remains doubtful that weapons such as the AR-15 have become less popular. 

"It would be lovely if there had been a decrease in demand," Haas said to NPR. "I would be very interested to learn of the gun manufacturer's sales."

Heavy discounts

Walmart does not disclose sales figures for firearms. For the next two weeks, the guns will be heavily discounted as the company empties their stock.

The company lowered their stock and variety of firearms in 2006, but brought them back as part of a campaign to increase sales growth across its American stores, according to Bloomberg.

In Canada, the AR-15 is classified as a restricted firearm that are only allowed to be fired at certified ranges. The 1995 classification came in as part of Bill-C68.

Canada's National Firearm Association was mocked last December when their Facebook page showed an advertisement of Santa giving a child an AR-15 rifle for Christmas. The association has petitioned to reclassify the AR-15 as a non-restricted weapon. 

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