Walmart on Friday reversed their decision to remove all guns and ammunition displayed on the floor of its stores this week, amid concerns of civil unrest in major cities across the country after the killing of Black people by police.
The major retailer had made a similar move in some of its stores in June because of protests that had turned violent in some cities, citing “an abundance of caution.” This time, though, Walmart removed the weapons and ammo across all US stores where they’re sold.
“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,” the company said a statement on Thursday.
But then on Friday, the company suddenly reversed course.
“As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated,” said a spokesperson, “we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today.”
Protests have erupted across the US for months after the killing of Black men and women by police. A wave of protests earlier this year were sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, but other fatal incidents have continued to fuel protests.
Earlier this week, the streets of Philadelphia were filled with demonstrators after the killing of Walter Wallace Jr. by officers Monday who responded to the family’s call for medical assistance.
The local district attorney’s office, which is reviewing the police shooting, said video of the incident was “concerning” and that officials have raised questions why the officers, and not medical assistance, were dispatched to the home of Wallace’s family.
Protests in Philadelphia have since turned violent at times, with looters targeting stores and banks.
One target for looters Tuesday was a Port Richmond Walmart. Looters were seen carrying clothes and appliances, and according to CBS 3 Philly, ripped boxes of ammunition were also seen abandoned on the ground just outside the store.
Walmart noted it only sells guns and ammunition in about half of its nearly 5,000 stores nationwide.
Walmart’s original decision to pull firearm displays also came as the US is seeing a steep surge in the purchase of guns this year.
Amid an ongoing pandemic, civil unrest in many cities, and worries about an upcoming contentious presidential election, FBI background checks — which are required for the purchase of guns from licensed dealers — increased significantly during the first half of 2020 compared to last year.
According to the FBI, there were more than 9.8 million background checks conducted between January and June of this year. During the same period last year, more than 5.8 million checks were performed.