Walmart will pay half a million dollars to settle allegations from the California Department of Justice that it sold brass knuckles on its website, state Attorney General Rob Bonta said.
Brass knuckles are classified as deadly and illegal weapons in many states, including California, which punishes their sale with up to a year in prison.
The investigation into the retail giant first began in 2018, when the Merced County district attorney found that Walmart was selling and allowing third-party vendors to sell brass knuckles on its website, officials said at a news conference. . The Department of Justice conducted years of investigation and negotiations in partnership with the district attorney’s offices in Merced, Ventura, and Yolo Counties.
Brass knuckles, which are usually made of metal or hard plastic, can be used to break bones, cut people or cause even fatal injuries, Bonta said, calling the settlement “a huge victory ” for California consumers.
“We have made it clear that we will not sit idly by while a company, no matter how big … allows Californians to be armed with illegal weapons,” Bonta said. “This is a critical push back into an e-commerce giant that will have a significant impact on the industry.”
Walmart said in a statement that it did not violate any California laws and claimed “no liability for wrongdoing,” but settled because “we believe this agreement is in the best interests of all of parties.”
As part of the settlement, Walmart will pay the Department of Justice and district attorneys’ offices $125,000 each in civil penalties. The nation’s largest retailer must also stop selling and allow any sales of brass knuckles on their website.
Investigators found nearly 250 products that could be classified as brass knuckles on Walmart’s website, 60% of which were offered directly by the retailer and 40% of which were available from third-party sellers, authorities said.
The settlement also requires Walmart to notify customers who purchased brass knuckles that the weapon is illegal.
Authorities said they were investigating others for selling illegal weapons but did not name the alleged offenders.
“While Walmart has been very cooperative in this case and doing their best to remove illegal weapons from their websites, there are others who have not, and they need to know that we are coming for them,” Ventura County Deputy District Attorney. Karen Wold said Tuesday.
Walmart is a major retailer of firearms in the United States, but has taken steps to restrict the sale of firearms and ammunition since 2015.
The giant retailer stopped selling ammunition for semi-automatic rifles and handguns after 23 people were killed at one of its stores in El Paso, Texas, in 2019. The company stopped selling semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15 style rifle in 2015. and raised the minimum age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21 in 2018.
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