In a year when gun sales are surging, Walmart is removing all guns and ammunitions from about half of its 4,752 stores to stave potential thefts if social unrest leads to break-ins.
Just as Walmart did in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing in June and the mass shooting in El Paso last year, the nation’s leading retailer made the move amid social unrest “as a precaution for the safety of our customers and associates,” a company statement read.
Walmart noted that the stores that sell guns and ammunition have large concentrations of hunters, sportsmen and sportswomen. Those stores will continue to sell guns and ammunition upon request.
On Monday, Philadelphia police fatally shot Walter Wallace Jr., 27, when he refused to drop a knife. His family said they called 911 for psychological help with him. The incident sparked peaceful protests that turned violent this week in Philadelphia.
“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 its statement.
Walmart has been reducing gun sales in recent years, stopping the sale of assault rifles in 2015 and halting semiautomatic rifle ammunition sales in 2019 after 23 people were killed at or near a Walmart store in El Paso.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation reported that firearm background checks have risen 72% this year with 41% of them coming from people who have never owned a gun. It estimates that the U.S. has 5 million new gun owners this year.