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Amid a continuing rise in the number of gun sales this year, Walmart just announced it will be temporarily removing all firearms and ammunition from its stores as a “precaution.”
The retail giant took the preemptive move in response to recent looting and unrest in Philadelphia and possibly concerns of post-Election Day unrest, opting to remove weapons and ammunition from store shelves in the event rioting should break out, according to The Wall Street Journal. Although the products will not be displayed in the stores, customers can still make purchases upon request.
It is not clear how long the firearms and ammunition will be removed from displays but Walmart told store managers in a letter Wednesday that the products should be pulled from shelves “due to the current unrest in isolated areas of the country and out of an abundance of caution.”
The retail chain noted that it sells firearms and ammunition at only about half of its 4,700 stores nationwide and that similar decisions have been made in the past.
(Source: CBS Philly)
“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,” Walmart said in a statement.
“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. These items do remain available for purchase by customers,” the company said.
The move came in the wake of riots that broke out in Philadelphia after the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old black man who allegedly charged at police while wielding a knife. Violent unrest followed as rioters looted, set fires and caused extensive damage.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) October 27, 2020
Looters ransacked stores, and even assaulted a journalist who was filming the scene in one store in the Democrat-run city. The local Walmart was targeted by the “protesters” as well.
— Preston Phillips (@PrestonTVNews) October 28, 2020
“Election years are always busy but this year when you have a pandemic and you have civil unrest and stuff like that, the crime and looting, that tends to scare folks,” Phillip Arrington, owner of Goodlettsville Gun Shop in Tennessee told WKRN-TV.
“Gun sales have been off the charts industry-wide for 2020,” Arrington, who supports Walmart’s decision, said, adding that 2020 gun sales knock previous spikes “out of the ballpark.”
Walmart similarly removed firearms from store displays back in June after the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minnesota which set off weeks of rioting and demonstrations.
According to CBS News:
Walmart stopped selling ammunition that can be used in semiautomatic rifles and handguns after a 2019 shooting at one of its stores in El Paso, Texas, killed 23 people. The company stopped selling assault-style weapons in 2015 and raised the minimum age to buy firearms and ammunition to 21, from 18, in 2018. It stopped selling handguns everywhere but in Alaska in 1993, and ended its sales of rifles like the AR-15 in 2015.
Gun sales have been surging across the nation ahead of the looming election, with sales hitting record numbers.
“This has been a year unlike any other, where law-abiding Americans are seeing for themselves the need to be able to protect themselves and their family,” Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told Forbes last month.
The coronavirus pandemic and the economic uncertainty it created, combined with months of civil unrest and the prospect of a Democratic victory in November have fueled the sale of firearms.
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