| ROGERS, Ark.
ROGERS, Ark. May 30 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.