After initially saying it had declined an invitation to Thursday’s White House meetings on gun violence, Wal-Mart now says it will attend. But senior officials from the nation’s largest gun retailer will not be there.
“Knowing our senior leaders could not be in Washington this week, we spoke in advance with the Vice President's office to share our perspective,” Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said in a statement. “We underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate.”
Wal-Mart’s initial announcement this morning that it would not attend the Vice President Biden-led sessions sparked a round of headlines noting that Wal-Mart would “skip” the talks.
Earlier, Tovar said Wal-Mart has had “a number of phone calls and meetings” with Biden’s office at the staff level in recent weeks, and “they know we’ve been very engaged on this topic and we’re committed to participating in the dialogue.”
He added that the representatives who have been corresponding with White House officials have other meetings this week and are simply unable to attend this particular meeting.
But the tune changed just an hour and a half later with the following more lengthy written statement:
"Walmart, like the rest of the country, has been engaged in a national dialogue about the responsible sale and regulation of firearms. We have had ongoing conversations with the Administration, Congress, Mayor Bloomberg's office, sportsmen groups, suppliers and others to listen and share our thoughts and experiences.
"Over the years we have been very purposeful about striking the right balance between serving hunters and sportsmen and ensuring that we sell firearms responsibly. In fact, we became a charter member of Mayor Bloomberg's coalition against illegal guns and adopted the 10-point code established by the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership that goes beyond what the law requires.
"Knowing our senior leaders could not be in Washington this week, we spoke in advance with the Vice President's office to share our perspective. We underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate. We take this issue very seriously and are committed staying engaged in this discussion as the Administration and Congress work toward a consensus on the right path forward."