Sunday night, I wrote a post on buying a little ammo at Wal-Mart and ended up with more comments than I've got on a single post in a long time. I might have got fewer comments if I said I'd decided to drink "blended puppies" like Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds.
I thought I had explained that Bill and I only occasionally buy ammo at Wal-Mart and we've never bought a gun there. In fact, we strongly prefer supporting our local gun dealers.
That said, what is it about Wal-Mart that inflames liberals and conservatives alike? I read books and magazines on both sides of the culture war. Many on each side simply hate Wal-Mart. Certain conservatives hate it because it buys overseas now despite Sam Walton's original vision of "Buy American." Liberals hate it because of its resistance to labor unions. Both sides hate it because it's too big.
I have to admit I view Wal-Mart with a certain degree of mistrust because of its size. In the comments to Sunday's post, "Doug in Colorado" mentioned that Wal-Mart could put the small gun stores out of business. Then, for whatever reason, they could pull the plug on its gun department and leave many communities without a gun store. Certainly, Wal-Mart has put a lot of small hardware stores out of business. I don't know if they've put any gun stores out of business yet, but it's a legitimate concern.
On the other hand, Wal-Mart and most gun stores are not really in competition. Wal-Mart grabs certain cream parts of the market like .22 long rifle ammo, 9mm pistol ammo, 12 gauge shotgun ammo, cleaning kits, and related. They carry no handguns (anywhere in the country to the best of my knowledge) and only a few shotguns and rifles.
A fully stocked gun store is your source for all of the above and for more esoteric cartridges like .32-20, 7.62 x 25, and others. Then, there's your local gun store’s wide selection of rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Certainly a local gun store will give you more services and have more knowledgeable employees than will Wal-Mart. As “Seth from Massachusetts” points out, Wal-Mart won’t mount a scope for you.
All this is true, but here is why I plan to buy a couple of hundred rounds of ammo from Wal-Mart this Saturday. I really like the idea of having many outlets for ammo and guns. When I was growing up, you could buy ammo at Sears, any hardware store, and some grocery stores. Do we really want to concentrate all ammo sales in a few stores that zoning boards could force out of town? Wal-Mart will stand up to zoning boards if it is in their interest.
Further, Wal-Mart is under pressure from anti-gun groups to stop selling guns and ammo. Wal-Mart must see customer support or it will walk away from the business. Do you really want the gun-grabbers to win?