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Walmart removes gun displays from US stores amid fears of ‘unrest’

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Walmart announced Thursday that it has removed ammunition and firearms from sales floors at its U.S. locations in anticipation of “civil unrest” in parts of the country.

The retail giant said it will still sell guns and ammunition at its stores where offered, but would remove them from public displays following looting in Philadelphia this week.

“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 to The Hill.

The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Riots and looting broke out in Philadelphia in recent days after Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man, was shot by police during a confrontation. Wallace’s family said he was going through a mental health crisis at the time of his death.

A local Walmart was among the stores looted in the city earlier this week, with news media finding loose ammo rounds on the floor at the ransacked location.

Walmart made a similar decision to remove firearms and ammo from its sales floors in June amid national unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Concerns about civil unrest have also risen nearing Election Day next week, with some political observers worried about a post-election backlash among the losing side given growing distrust about the fairness of the election.

Authorities in major cities say that law enforcement has prepared to respond to reports of voter harassment or intimidation as well as other potential election-related threats. Measures implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic have also raised the possibility of election results being delayed.

Walmart’s move to take guns and ammo off its sales floors also comes as demand for firearms has risen dramatically this year, based on FBI background checks.

According to the Journal, the National Shooting Sports Foundation reported 12.1 million gun checks from January to July, 72 percent more than in the same time frame last year.

In the announcement Thursday, Walmart emphasized it sells firearms in only half of its locations and only in areas where there are large concentrations of “hunters, sportsmen and sportswomen.”

Walmart stopped carrying semi-automatic rifles in 2015 and three years later raised its minimum age to purchase guns or ammunition to 21.

Updated: 6:45 p.m. 

Tags civil unrest Firearms Walmart

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