Walmart announced on Thursday that it would no longer have guns and ammunition on display inside its U.S. stores, citing incidents of civil unrest in major cities across the country following incidents of police brutality.
The announcement comes days after protests erupted in Philadelphia and other cities across the country following the police shooting of a 27-year-old black man named Walter Wallace Jr., leading to riots, unrest and mass looting across the city, including Walmart stores.
"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," a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement.
Guns Will Still be Available for Purchase at Stores
Walmart remains a major seller of guns and ammunition, selling firearms in about 2,350 stores in the U.S. Although the guns will be pulled from display, they will still be available for purchase at the stores, upon customers' request.
The retailer made a similar move in some of its stores in June, when it temporarily shifted firearms and ammunition out of sales floors following nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing by Minneapolis police, which resulted in several of its stores being vandalized and looted. The guns and ammo were back on display after a month.
Similarly, 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.
Gun Sales on the Rise
Walmart's decision to pull firearm displays also comes as the U.S. is seeing a steep surge in the purchase of guns this year, according to the FBI database of firearm background checks, which are required for the purchase of guns from licensed dealers. The number of checks initiated this year, over 28 million, has already surpassed the total number of checks for all of 2019.
Gun purchase interest tends to rise around stressful events and ahead of elections, when some buyers wish to protect themselves from expected unrest and others are worried that if Biden wins, he will pass much stricter gun control laws.