– Wal-Mart Stores agreed to pay $14.5 million to settle a state
lawsuit alleging thousands of violations of gun laws between 2000
and 2003, Attorney General Bill Lockyer said.
By Lori Stuenkel
Gilroy – Wal-Mart Stores agreed to pay $14.5 million to settle a state lawsuit alleging thousands of violations of gun laws between 2000 and 2003, Attorney General Bill Lockyer said.
Wal-Mart will pay $5 million in fines, more than $4 million for state compliance checks, and $3 million to create a system to check the age of ammunition purchasers and develop a public service campaign on firearm safety.
“Wal-Mart’s failure to comply with gun safety laws put the lives of all Californians at risk by placing guns in the hands of criminals and other prohibited persons,” Lockyer said in a statement Wednesday.
Wal-Mart agreed in April 2003 to stop gun sales at 114 stores in California after hundreds of state gun law violations were identified at stores in Turlock, Merced, Los Banos, Madera, and two in Sacramento.
Lockyer filed the civil suit in Sacramento Superior Court Tuesday, following an audit conducted later in 2003 that uncovered 2,891 violations between 2000 and 2003 and five stores, in Folsom, Turlock, Fresno, Ukiah and Simi Valley.
State officials said those stores sold guns to 23 people not allowed to possess them, and delivered 36 to people who purchased a gun for someone who was not allowed to have one.
The stores also delivered guns before the completion of a criminal background check; failed to identify buyers using thumbprints and scanning driver’s licenses; and failed to document that locks were delivered with each gun, the lawsuit alleged.
The state provided Wal-Mart officials with special training on gun law compliance after routine inspections in 1999 and 2000 revealed numerous technical violations.
Bay Area Wal-Mart stores received special training as well, after violations were discovered in Pleasanton in September 2001.
Under the settlement, Wal-Mart will also reimburse Lockyer’s office $800,000 for investigative costs. Another $1.2 million will pay for state agents to monitor Wal-Marts’ compliance over the next five years.
The retail chain hasn’t yet decided whether it will resume gun sales in California, said company spokesman Gus Whitcomb.
The settlement doesn’t bar Wal-Mart from resuming sales, but requires it to submit to court-ordered compliance with gun laws.
“Our licenses are current, so if we make that decision we could sell as soon as we wanted to,” Whitcomb said.
He said Wal-Mart stores sell guns in every state but California, Hawaii and New Jersey.