A hearing to determine whether shareholders could prevent Walmart from selling modern sporting rifles began yesterday in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In November, a district court sided with New York’s Trinity Wall Street Church, which owns 3,500 shares of stock in the company, ruling that shareholders could force Walmart board of directors to review the decision to sell certain firearms and that the proposal to do so must be included on upcoming corporate ballots.
Though Trinity Rev. James H. Cooper denies the church’s proposal is “anti-gun,” many in the firearms and legal communities believe this is a case of activist investors attempting to gain enough power to press a gun-control agenda within the corporation. Even if Trinity wins the case, however, it’s unlikely to prevent the roughly 1,800 stores that sell firearms from continuing to do so—the pro-gun Walton family still owns about half the company’s shares. What’s actually at stake is the precedent that could be set for corporate governance going forward.