SANTA FE — Walmarts in New Mexico plan to stop selling guns later this month after a new state law expanded background checks to nearly all gun purchases, a company spokeswoman says.
The law that took effect this week requires background checks on private sales between neighbors or friends, with exceptions for relatives and antique guns.
It also allows federally licensed gun sellers to offer to conduct checks for private sales. The sellers can charge up to $35 per background check.
Walmart and other gun sellers already perform federal background checks on their firearm sales.
The retailer is not equipped to conduct checks for private sales, Walmart spokeswoman Tiffany Wilson said. Employees and customers could be put in danger by people bringing in guns seeking checks for private sales, she said.
"Unlike a specialty sporting goods retailer where customers expect to see firearms of various types being handled, Walmart customers do not generally expect to see individuals walking through the store potentially carrying multiple firearms, which can lead to confusion and potentially putting both our customers and associates at risk," Wilson told KOAT-TV .
Walmart stores primarily cater to hunters and sporting clay shooters, Wilson said. The stores do not sell handguns or modern sporting rifles.
Liability concerns and the clerical work for each background check could create a "money-losing proposition" for Walmart, said Bill Roney, owner of the Outdoorsman of Santa Fe gun shop. Department stores are probably not the best places for private gun owners to bring in firearms for private checks, he said.
"It creates a security nightmare for everyone," Roney told the Santa Fe New Mexican .
Walmart plans to end gun sales on July 22. The stores will continue to sell ammunition.
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