Walmart reverses decision to remove guns and ammo from display as 'civil unrest' was 'geographically isolated'
The retailer on Thursday had asked all of its stores to move firearms and ammunition to a secure backroom area of the store out of 'an abundance of caution'
Walmart, the multinational retail corporation, on Friday reversed its decision to take guns and ammunition from store displays in response to concerns about "isolated civil unrest." The retailer on Thursday had asked all of its stores to move firearms and ammunition to a secure backroom area of the store out of “an abundance of caution”, Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg told NBC News. But, “as the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today,” he said on Friday.
America's largest retailer's move comes just days before the presidential election set on November 3, amid increasing concerns of the results sparking violence in the region. Walmart sells firearms in nearly half of its 4,700 stores in the country.
The retailer, in a statement on Thursday, October 29, had stated: "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," according to the Associated Press.
Walmart had made the move amid widespread protests, vandalism and an overnight curfew in Philadelphia before Election Day after police shot and killed a Black man with a history of mental health issues. The retailer had taken a similar decision after George Floyd's killing in police custody resulted in violent demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism in the country.
Walmart, last year, had stopped sale of handgun and short-barrel rifle ammunition and has requested its customers to not openly carry firearms in its store even in the states where laws allow them to. The company later took a decision to end the sale of handguns in Alaska. Ever since raiders smashed windows, ransacked stores and set them ablaze earlier this year in cities like New York Chicago, Los Angesles, and Portland, retailers have been on the edge.
Another factor that may have pushed Walmart to make the decision is the current record of gun sales in the US. Reports state that gun sales in the country have reached a record high this year and more number of first-time buyers have purchased firearms in recent months.
Meanwhile, federal and state law enforcement have begun preparing for potential unrest across states after the Election Day results come out. Reports state that Texas is preparing to send in at least 1,000 troops to five major cities across the state "to deter any civil disturbance" after the election. Stores in the region and in Washington DC have already started boarding up their windows in anticipation of potential unrest in the coming days.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and local officials in multiple states have been conducting drills and running through worst-case scenarios, according to reports. The Beverly Hills Police Department, in a text message obtained by the Dail Mail last week, had told business owners in the region to board up their windows ahead of Election Day.
The department reportedly issued a mass text to all business owners in the region on Friday, October 30, suggesting that by November 2, all Rodeo Drive buildings should board up their store windows.