WASHINGTON -- On-post military exchanges will soon restock high-capacity ammunition magazines, reversing a recent decision to discontinue selling them at installations across the United States and online, Army & Air Force Exchange Service officials said Tuesday.
Post exchanges began pulling ammunition magazines and clips holding 11 or more rounds from shelves on March 2, announcing the policy decision via signs displayed on stores shelves. Some customers blasted the decision on social media, taking to the organization's Facebook page to call for boycotts of the stores and questioning the organization's motives for the change.
Those voices were heard, said Chris Ward, a spokesman for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, or AAFES. The impacted magazines and clips were expected be returned to stores immediately, he said.
"We thank customers for sharing their thoughts regarding the firearms accessories stock assortment," Ward said. "Feedback from active-duty, Guard and Reserve soldiers and airmen highlighted the criticality of these products as it relates to readiness and proficiency."
The initial decision was not politically motivated, Ward said. Leadership of AAFES decided initially in February to remove the magazines after a review of its stock showed it was offering different products than other military exchanges, he said. Marine Corps exchanges, for example, have not carried large capacity ammunition magazines since 2013.
National outdoor retailer Dick's Sporting Goods in February pulled high capacity magazines from its stores as well as "assault-style" or modern sporting rifles, including AR-15s, and raised the age to purchase firearms and ammunition from 18 to 21 in their stores. Walmart made similar changes to its policies. Both retailers cited the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and faculty members were killed by a 19-year-old former student.
A lawsuit claiming Dick's and Walmart's new policies amount to age discrimination was filed against the retailers last week in Oregon.
The Defense Department-run AAFES includes some 2,700 department, convenience and military clothing stores on Army and Air Force installations throughout the United States and in 36 additional countries. It provides tax-free goods to servicemembers, their families and veterans, including online at shopmyexchange.com.
As of early Tuesday afternoon, the website showed high-capacity magazines remained "out of stock."
For example, Magpul Industries' PMAG GEN M3 magazine was shown as available in the 10-round capacity size, but it was not yet available in 20- or 25-round capacities.