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Wal-Mart to meet with Biden on guns

January 09, 2013|By Melanie Mason

WASHINGTON – Representatives from Wal-Mart will meet with Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday to discuss gun policy, after initially declining the administration’s invitation because of a scheduling conflict.

David Tovar, a spokesman for the company, said that although Wal-Mart’s leadership has already spoken to Biden’s office to offer its perspective, “we underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate.”

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest firearms seller, has "had ongoing conversations with the administration, Congress, [New York] Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg’s office, sportsmen groups, suppliers and others to listen and share our thoughts and experiences,” Tovar said in a statement.

The company has worked with Bloomberg’s group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, on the Responsible Firearms Retail Partnership, an initiative to adopt stricter gun sale practices.

In 2006, the company scaled back its sales of hunting rifles and ammunition to just a third of its stores. But starting in 2011, in the midst of a retail slump, the company ramped up its firearms business to about half of its stores, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Another big-box retailer, Dick’s Sporting Goods, suspended the sale of some kinds of semi-automatic assault rifles in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Wal-Mart and other retailers, including Bass Pro Shops, continued to sell high-powered rifles.

The Washington Post reported last weekend that the White House, in mulling a broad overhaul of the nation’s gun laws, hoped to get the retailer’s support on tougher background check measures.

Closing a loophole that allows private gun sales to be conducted without a background check, for example, could push more people into buying firearms at licensed dealers, such as Wal-Mart.

Biden is resuming his gun policy working group this week, meeting with the National Rifle Assn., sports shooting groups, gun safety advocates, victims of gun violence and representatives of the entertainment and video game industry.

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melanie.mason@latimes.com

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