The world’s largest retailer is pulling firearms and ammunition from sales floors across the United States, a move that is intended to keep the deadly weapons from falling into criminals’ hands.
Walmart advised store managers to begin making the shift Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Customers interested in buying firearms or ammunition can still make purchases, but an authorized employee will have to retrieve the goods.
“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 company spokesman told The Journal.
Although Walmart stopped selling so-called assault rifles in 2015, the firearms that remain on store shelves are plenty deadly enough to do damage in the hands of a motivated criminal or an inexperienced looter.
The Arkansas-based company also banned open carry within its stores and stopped carrying certain kinds of ammunition after several of its locations were targeted by shooters.
It’s unclear how long Walmart’s latest decision will stand.
The move comes amid a surging demand for firearms and growing civil unrest in several places across America, a trend that is anticipated to increase as a hotly contested election approaches.
Most notably, a Walmart was ransacked Tuesday night in Philadelphia by looters running wild.
Video from the scene is surreal, showing rioters swarming the store and making off with cars full of ill-gotten things.
Mass looting of @Walmart store in Philadelphia. This Walmart is just off I-95 in the city’s Port Richmond section at Castor&Aramingo Avenues where @phillypolice say “One thousand people looting stores now in this business area full of strip malls.” @fox29philly pic.twitter.com/b9BFfcc2oE
— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) October 28, 2020
The violent unrest, which was sparked by the police killing of armed suspect Walter Wallace Jr., quickly proved too much for the city’s law enforcement.
“Philadelphia police have completely lost control of the affected rioting region which stretches multiple city blocks,” Blaze reporter Elijah Schafer wrote while covering the madness on the ground Tuesday night. “Looters have broken into more than 30+ stores and are attacking white people.”
“They are also shooting each other. I’ve only witnessed one arrest.”
It’s unclear if Walmart will keep firearms and ammunition locked in a secure location within the store or if determined looters will be able to bypass whatever security the corporation installs.
For now, the safest bet for Americans is to stay off the streets and to steer clear of any looting and civil unrest.
As the contentious election draws to a finale, these episodes of violence are likely to only continue.
UPDATE, Nov. 2, 2020: After the publication of this article, Walmart reversed course and returned firearms and ammunition to stores.
“After civil unrest earlier this week resulted in damage to several of our stores, consistent with actions we took over the summer, we asked stores to move firearms and ammunition from the sales floor to a secure location in the back of the store in an abundance of caution, “ Walmart said in a statement.
“As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today.”
This article appears as originally written. Read the full update here.
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