Walmart reversed its decision to pull guns and ammunition from stores just a day later, calling the examples of "civil unrest" at its stores "isolated" incidents. The original decision came after a Walmart store was among those looted during protests in Philadelphia spurned on by a fatal shooting by police Monday. Walmart also removed guns and ammunition from stores in June after stores were damaged during protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
"After civil unrest earlier this week resulted in damage to several of our stores, consistent with actions we took over the summer, we asked stores to move firearms and ammunition from the sales floor to a secure location in the back of the store in an abundance of caution," a Walmart spokesperson wrote in a statement to CBS News Friday. "As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today." Walmart, the country's largest retailer, now only sells firearms in half of its 4,700 stores.
Protests began in Philadelphia following the shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr. Police said the 27-year-old was carrying a knife and ignored police orders to drop it, reports 6ABC. However, his parents said police knew Wallace was in a mental health crisis because they visited their home multiple times before the shooting. Body camera video and 911 audio from the shooting will be released on Wednesday, police and Wallace's family said. There were two officers involved in the shooting, each firing seven shots, police said. Neither officer carried a Taser.
On Tuesday, the Walmart in the Philadelphia neighborhood Port Richmond was hit by looters, reports Fox29. Several people were reportedly seen leaving the store with merchandise and televisions. Philadelphia police reported about 1,000 people were looting businesses in the area. Stores near the Walmart were also hit with looting. Following the looting, Walmart announced it would pull ammunition and firearms from stores.
Walmart has refused to stop selling firearms completely; as CEO Doug McMillon said last year, the firearms they do sell focus on hunting and sport shooting. The retailer did stop selling ammunition for semiautomatic rifles after the 2019 shooting at an El Paso, Texas Walmart, where 23 people were killed. The company also stopped selling rifles like the AR-15 and assault-style weapons in 2015. In 2018, Walmart raised the minimum age to buy ammunition to 21.