Walmart said Thursday it would remove guns and ammunition from the sales floors nationwide due to concerns about break-ins and civil unrest.
The policy change comes in response to Philadelphia’s protests after the police shooting of a black man, Walter Wallace Jr. Philadelphia police tweeted Tuesday that a large crow of nearly 1000 people is looting businesses in the Port Richmond area. Earlier that day, news helicopter footage showed people appearing to break in and take items from different stores.
Kory Lundberg, a spokesperson for Walmart, said that it is a precaution for the safety of its employees and all the customers. According to Lundberg, there is no timetable for returning the items to the shelves. She added that they would remain available for purchase upon customer request.
America’s largest retailer implemented similar measures in June following nationwide protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.
Walmart is one of the major sellers of guns and ammunition, offering firearms in half of its 4,700 stores nationwide.
In 2019, the company stopped selling ammunition that can be used in semiautomatic rifles and handguns following the shooting at one of its stores in El Paso, Texas, that killed 23 people.
In 2015, Walmart removed assault-style weapons and increased the minimum age to buy firearms from 18 to 21 in 2018. In 1993, it stopped selling handguns everywhere except Alaska. In 2015, the store chain removed rifles like AR-15 from its product offering.
Last year, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon faced public pressure to leave the gun business altogether. He resisted those demands saying that Walmart will focus on hunting and sport firearms.
According to the FBI database of firearm background checks, firearm sales interest has increased this year. There are 28 million checks so far, already surpassing the total number of background checks for 2019.
Mark Peter Smith, the gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson Brands’ CEO, also confirmed the trend, stating that firearms newcomers were responsible for nearly 40% of sales in 2020.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated 12.1 million background checks for gun purchases until July, a 72% increase from the 7.1 million reviews in the same period last year. It also highlighted that almost 5 million Americans purchased a gun for the first time in 2020.
Firearm purchase interest tends to rise in stressful times or ahead of elections when some people try to protect themselves from potential social unrest. Others are worried that a winning Democrat candidate may strengthen the gun control regulations.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Walmart’s new policy?