Confronting Armed Customers Becomes the Toughest Task in Retail

At Walmart Inc. and Kroger Co. stores, new policies that call for dissuading customers from carrying unconcealed firearms have thrust 2 million employees onto the front lines of America’s gun debate.

The retailers, along with drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and grocer Wegmans Food Markets Inc., said this week that they’ll ask people not to display guns in their aisles, even in states where it’s legal.

The policies are still gelling, and may be permissive enough to allow a blind eye for gun carriers if no one complains. No matter how tentative, the private-sector decisions were a sharp contrast with congressional paralysis after a years-long spate of mass shootings, including the Aug. 3 massacre of 22 people at an El Paso Walmart. But they sowed confusion and skepticism among the workers who will have to carry out the directives — and deal with the consequences if customers resist.

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Neither Walmart nor Kroger has so far provided training on when and how to approach a gun-toting customer, nuanced knowledge that security experts say is critical. In break-room conversations and on internet bulletin boards, workers have voiced complaints that they are being placed in harm’s way. Employees of Kroger… Bloomberg

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