Retail giant Walmart announced last week that, following recent shootings — including one in the parking lot of one of their locations in El Paso — it would no longer set up displays to promote violent video games.
We think that's a good move. While Walmart is saying the removal is out of respect in the wake of the shootings, the reason we applaud them is many of these displays include demonstrations of the games, complete with sound effects. Often those sound effects include fake gun shots that customers could mistake for the real thing, causing fear and panic.
Even worse, a well-intentioned individual legally carrying a firearm could be led to believe customers were under fire. And it's just possible that could lead to tragedy.
So in our view, Walmart is making a sound decision to protect their customers and employees.
But critics on both the right and left aren't so happy.
Some folks blame video games for real-life violence. And the stores will sell the games. Some blame guns. Walmart will continue to sell guns.
Basically, Walmart and other retailers are caught in the middle of opposing camps. Video games and guns are both legal. So are hammers, hatchets and rat poison, for that matter. All can potentially do harm. But there is no way Walmart or any other retailer can predict or monitor what consumers do with products they purchase.
Law-abiding Americans have every right to own guns or video games, no matter what anyone else thinks. And retailers like Walmart have every right to sell them.
At least they do for now.