Retail giant Walmart has removed guns and ammunition from its U.S. sales floors out of concern for theft amid “civil unrest” over the killings of Black people by police.
Guns will remain available for purchase upon request, said the company, which sells firearms in about half of its 4,750 U.S. stores.
Walmart has pulled guns off its shelves in the past ― most recently in June, amid the summer’s protests over police killings. The shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr. by Philadelphia police on Monday has touched off another wave of demonstrations as a contentious election season comes to a head.
“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 first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“It’s important to note that we only sell firearms in approximately half of our stores, primarily where there are large concentrations of hunters, sportsmen and sportswomen,” the company said.
Walmart said in a letter to store managers cited by the Journal that the decision was made “due to the current unrest in isolated areas of the country and out of an abundance of caution.” A Walmart in Philadelphia was trashed during this week’s unrest.
Wallace, 27, was shot numerous times by Philadelphia officers after his mother called for help for a mental health crisis. Shaky cellphone video shows the officers demanding that Wallace, several yards from them, “put the knife down” before firing.
The family had called for an ambulance, not police, their lawyer said.
Walmart has been pushed to make adjustments to its firearms department after other incidents of violence. After a mass shooting left 17 people dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, the retailer raised the minimum age to purchase guns to 21. In 2019, after 23 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart in Texas, the retailer stopped selling ammunition for assault-style rifles.