After a vocal response from customers, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service will begin restocking its shelves this week with high-capacity ammunition magazines — reversing a policy to stop selling magazines that hold 11 or more rounds.
Exchange officials reversed their firearm policy based on input from customers, according to a statement from AAFES.
“Feedback from active-duty, Guard and Reserve soldiers and airmen highlighted the criticality of high-capacity magazines as it relates to readiness and proficiency,” officials stated.
The stores — including the online store — stopped selling high-capacity magazines at the beginning of March. In less than 10 days, AAFES had reversed the decision and began making plans to get the products back on the shelves.
Troops use these magazines, sold separately from firearms, to supplement the magazines they are issued. In addition, Guard and Reserve members said they need the magazines for training while they are not on active duty.
“I’m currently deployed with 30-round PMAGs that I purchased at the PX, why don’t you trust us anymore?” one customer wrote on Facebook.
Paul Andersen, a retired Army captain who was a military policeman, on Monday praised AAFES CEO Tom Shull for reversing the policy.
“AAFES customers are active duty members, reservists and retirees. Thankfully he listened to his customers,” Andersen said, noting that the 49th Military Police Alumni Association sent numerous emails to Shull about the issue over the last week.
“If it were up to me, to give up my gun to save a child’s life, I’d be the first to do it. I would do anything to save a child’s life,” Andersen said.
“But this ill-conceived, knee-jerk reaction to take away all high-capacity magazines doesn’t solve anything. It has no real results. We need to come up with a long-term solution.”
After the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people, some commercial retailers have limited the firearms and accessories they sell.
For example, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced on Feb. 28 it would no longer sell high-capacity magazines or assault-style rifles. The store also said it would no longer sell firearms to anyone under 21.
AAFES has sold high-capacity magazines primarily “as a result of vendor recommendations to offer the original equipment typically sold with certain firearms.”
At the beginning of March, AAFES removed magazines that hold 11 or more rounds from its shelves in stores and online.
“As a result of a recent review, a decision has been made to discontinue the sale of these [high-capacity magazines that are sold separately],” officials said at the time.
Since early 2013, Marine Corps exchanges have sold only magazines that hold 10 or fewer rounds, and the AAFES change aligned with the MCX policy.
However, the MCX does sell magazines with higher capacity — but only if they come boxed with the manufacturer’s gun, and if the state where the exchange is located allows it, said MCX. Some states, such as Hawaii and California, ban magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.
Customers let their views be known on AAFES’ Facebook page.
“Realigned with Marine Corps! The thing AAFES has ‘realigned’ with is the liberal push to strip our constitutional rights!” wrote one protester. “AAFES doesn’t have the needs of soldiers in their values.”
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.