NPR.ORG – October 29, 2020 – Walmart pulled guns and ammunition from its store shelves as a precautionary measure, following the unrest in Philadelphia this week after police fatally shot a Black man more than a dozen times on Monday.
Both weapons and bullets are still available for purchase in the stores that carry them, but customers will have to specifically request the items as opposed to grabbing them from display shelves.
“It’s important to note that we only sell firearms in approximately half of our stores, primarily where there are large concentrations of hunters, sportsmen, and sportswomen,” a Walmart spokesperson said in a statement Thursday.
The retail giant operates 4,700 stores in the U.S.
“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 added.
The killing of Walter Wallace Jr., whose family says they called 911 to summon an ambulance for help as he wandered in and out of traffic carrying a knife during a “psychological episode,” was captured in multiple graphic cellphone videos. They went viral almost immediately, prompting further national outrage over excessive use of force by police, especially when dealing with Black Americans.
In Philadelphia, that outrage spilled into the streets as people railed against the police department in protest. But what started off as peaceful demonstrations quickly turned violent on Monday night.
That led to two days of clashes between law enforcement in helmets and shields and protesters, some of them hurling objects at police. As of Wednesday morning police said 30 officers had been hurt and 81 people were arrested, including 53 for burglary.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story, said Walmart had decided to remove firearms and ammunition “aiming to head off any potential theft of firearms if stores are broken into amid social unrest.” [full article]