Walmart has removed guns and ammunition from sales floors due to isolated incidents of "civil unrest" in the United States. The retail giant made the announcement Thursday. The firearms products will still be available upon customer request, Walmart confirmed.
In a statement to CBS Money Watch, a Walmart spokesperson explained that they made the decision to pull the items from the sales floor after seeing "some isolated civil unrest." The spokesperson confirmed that "as we have done on several occasions over the last few years, we have moved our firearms and ammunition off the sales floor as a precaution for the safety of our associates and customers." According to CNN Business, there is no timetable as to when these items will return to the sales floor.
The move comes as peaceful protests in Philadelphia have broken into more violent scenes and looting following Monday’s fatal shooting by police of Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man. On Tuesday, local police said that "a large crowd of [approximately] 1000 is looting businesses" in the Port Richmond area of the city, and NBC News reports that news helicopter footage showed people appearing to break in and take items from a Foot Locker store and another business in the area.
Walmart previously made a similar move in June following the police killing of George Floyd, the unarmed Black man who was killed after a Minneapolis police office knelt on his for more than eight minutes. As demonstrations broke out across the country in response to his death, the company removed firearms and ammunition from stores. At the time, the retailer said that "as a responsible seller of hunting and sporting firearms, we have temporarily removed firearms and ammunition from the sales floor in some stores out of an abundance of caution."
In September of 2019, following the tragic Odessa and Midland, Texas, shootings and after Walmart CEO Doug McMillon pledged a "thoughtful and deliberate" response after a gunman opened fire in an El Paso Walmart, the retailer banned customers from carrying guns in their stores and ended the sale of assault rifles and handgun ammunition. In March of 2018, Walmart raised the age limit to purchase a firearm to 21, regardless of state laws. In 1993, the retailer stopped selling handguns everywhere but in Alaska, and in 2015, Walmart ended its sales of rifles like the AR-15.