Walmart Inc. on Thursday announced it will pull all guns and ammunition from its store displays on sales floors at stores this week in a bid to prevent the theft of firearms if stores are looted or broken into during potential mass civil unrest.
The Arkansas-based retail giant confirmed its new policy to news outlets, stipulating that customers can still buy firearms and ammo upon request.
“We have seen some isolated civil unrest and 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,” Walmart said in a statement, according to the Wall Street Journal and other outlets.
It’s not clear if the company is referring to the possibility of civil unrest that may occur during the Nov. 3 election. Walmart pulled guns and ammo from sales floors earlier this year in response to widespread demonstrations, vandalism, looting, and riots following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Guns and ammo “do remain available for purchase by customers,” the retailer said in its statement Thursday, adding that “we only sell firearms in approximately half of our stores, primarily where there are large concentrations of hunters, sportsmen, and sportswomen.”
The firm stopped selling ammunition that can be used in semiautomatic rifles and pistols after the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in 2019.
This week, a Walmart in Philadelphia was looted and ransacked during protests and riots that were sparked by the officer-involved shooting of a black male allegedly armed with a knife.
In 2018, Walmart raised the minimum age to purchase ammo or guns to 21 following the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting. Years before that, the retailer stopped selling certain rifles, and about 20 years ago, it stopped selling handguns except in Alaska.
Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon said last year that the company will sell firearms that are used primarily for hunting.
“As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” he said. “Our remaining assortment will be even more focused on the needs of hunting and sport-shooting enthusiasts.”
“I’m a gun owner myself,” he added in the statement at the time. “In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again,” he added. “The status quo is unacceptable.”
Over the past several months, in the midst of riots and the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, guns and ammo sales have skyrocketed.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms trade group, said in August that about 12 million background checks were carried out between January and July 2020, which is up about 72 percent from the same time last year. About 5 million of those purchases involved first-time gun buyers, according to the group.
“This is a tectonic shift in the firearm and ammunition industry marketplace and complete transformation of today’s gun-owning community,” said Lawrence G. Keane, an executive of the organization. “These first-time buyers represent a group of people who, until now, were agnostic regarding firearm ownership. That’s rapidly changing, and these Americans are taking hold of their God-given right to keep and bear arms and protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Walmart operates more than 4,700 stores across the United States, according to reports.