Rep. Ted Lieu slams Walmart for targeting video games after shootings

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California slammed Walmart for its decision to limit advertisements for video games following two shootings at its stores in recent weeks.

“Dear [Walmart], remember how: Mario Kart caused people to drive faster? Pac-Man caused folks to eat more? Fortnite radicalized a white supremacist to shoot Hispanics at your store,” Lieu tweeted on Friday afternoon.

“You disrespect the victims of mass shootings by making up stupid s—,” Lieu added. “Stop blaming video games.”

The tweet follows the release of an internal memo in which the company ordered its employees to immediately “remove signing and displays reference violence” in all of its departments.

The company specifically ordered employees to “turn off or unplug any video game display consoles that show a demo of violent games,” and “cancel any events promoting combat style or third-person shooter games.”

Asked for comment about the congressman’s tweet, a senior director for Walmart’s communications team directed INSIDER to a recent statement by Dan Bartlett, the company’s executive vice president for corporate affairs.

“Don’t be confused by us asking our teams to be sensitive about violent images on the sales floor right after innocent people were murdered at our store,” Bartlett said on Twitter. “We’re not suggesting this is the answer to gun violence.”

Walmart has been under intense scrutiny following two shootings at store locations. Two workers were killed in Southaven, Mississippi on July 30 by a “disgruntled employee.” A police officer was injured in the incident.

A separate shooter opened fire in a Walmart at El Paso, Texas, on August 3, killing 22 people before being arrested.

“We’ve taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment,” Walmart spokeswoman Tara House previously told INSIDER.

Republican lawmakers and commentators, including President Donald Trump, have widely suggested mental health and video games were to blame for mass shootings. Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California blamed “video games that dehumanize individuals,” while Trump targeted the “glorification of violence in our society.”

“This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace,” Trump said in prepared remarks on Monday.

Critics of the suggestion have pointed to numerous statistics that show an inverse correlation between video games and violent behavior or gun deaths.

Walmart, which sells firearms at certain locations, has been urged by gun control activists to cease the practice. Thomas Marshall, an employee for the company’s e-commerce division, called on his colleagues to go on strike to pressure the company.

“In light of recent events, and in response to corporate’s inaction, we are organizing a ‘sick out’ general strike to protest Walmart’s profit from the sale of guns,” Marshall said in an email.

Walmart is one of the world’s largest firearm dealers, according to CNN. The company stopped selling assault-style rifles in 2015.

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