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May 31, 2012 Comments Off Pat Dollard

ROGERS, Arkansas (Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer and biggest seller of firearms in the United States, is dropping out of a conservative advocacy group in the United States that has been criticized for promoting “Stand Your Ground” gun laws.

Wal-Mart was suspending its membership in the American Legislative Council (ALEC), which the retailer joined in 1993, the company said late on Wednesday.

Other groups that have backed away from supporting ALEC, include Coca-Cola Co, Kraft Foods Inc, McDonald’s Corp, Procter & Gamble Co and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The move by Wal-Mart comes more than a month after ALEC abandoned its committee that worked on “public safety and elections” to focus on the economy.

ALEC had come under criticism for its support of “Stand Your Ground” gun laws, such as the “self defense” law under scrutiny in the Florida shooting that killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February.

ALEC, a pro-business, free-market organization whose members include corporations and mostly Republican lawmakers and lobbyists, also drew scrutiny for promoting laws that require photo identification to vote. ColorOfChange, a liberal advocacy group for black Americans, had said such voting laws disadvantage the poor and minorities.

“Previously, we expressed our concerns about ALEC’s decision to weigh in on issues that stray from its core mission ‘to advance the Jeffersonian principles of free markets,'” Maggie Sans, Wal-Mart’s vice president of public affairs and government relations, said in a May 30 letter to ALEC’s national chairman and executive director.

“We feel that the divide between these activities and our purpose as a business has become too wide. To that end, we are suspending our membership in ALEC.”

Sans is also giving up her role as secretary of ALEC’s private enterprise board.
(Reporting By Brad Dorfman; Editing by Michael Perry)