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Walmart Returns Guns to Store Displays after Removing Them, Citing ‘Civil Unrest’

(Daniel Becerril/Reuters)

Walmart has returned guns and ammunition to its shelves a day after the retailer pulled them from its U.S. store floors, citing incidents of “isolated civil unrest” following several days of rioting in Philadelphia after the police shooting of a black man.

“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,” a Walmart spokesperson said Friday. “As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today.”

Peaceful protests turned into riots at night in Philadelphia this week following the death of Walter Wallace Jr., an African-American man who was shot Monday by two police officers responding to a call about an individual having a mental health crisis and armed with a weapon. The officers said Wallace was armed with a knife and advanced toward them before he was shot.

On Thursday, Walmart said it moved firearms and ammunition off the sales floor “as a precaution for the safety of our associates and customers” following incidents of “isolated civil unrest.”

The country’s top seller of guns and ammunition took a similar step in May during protests over the police custody death of George Floyd, removing guns and ammunition from its stores after several Walmart stores were damaged during the demonstrations. At one point the company closed hundreds of its 4,700 U.S. stores temporarily to protect employees and customers from the unrest.

“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 Thursday in a statement.

In 2015, Walmart announced it would no longer sell the AR-15 and other semi-automatic rifles. The company said the decision was unrelated to mass shootings involving AR-15 rifles and cited low customer demand and the company’s plan to focus on hunting and sportsman firearms.

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