Walmart returns guns to shelves, reversing decision ahead of US election

Joe Curtis
·2-min read
Guns for sale at Walmart store
Guns for sale at Walmart store

Walmart is returning guns and ammunition to its shelves, reversing an earlier decision made in light of possible civil unrest or looting as tensions rise in the run up to Tuesday's US presidential election.

The move to protect customers and employees came earlier this week after recent unrest in parts of Philadelphia. Looters have been targeting stores such as Walmart amid demonstrations over the police shooting of a black man, Walter Wallace Jr.  

Meanwhile, many are worried that Tuesday's election result could spark violence after voters choose between Donald Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden to be their next president.

“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 spokesman said. 

As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, the world's largest retailer decided to begin returning the weapons products to sales floors on Friday, reported Bloomberg.

Walmart sells guns and ammunition in around half its 5,000 stores around the US, it added.

The retailer made a similar move in June at the height of widespread protests over the death in custody of unarmed black man George Floyd, to dissuade any potential theft if stores were ransacked during protests.

Last year Walmart stopped selling ammunition for handguns and assault-style weapons after numerous shootings, including one that left 22 people dead at a Walmart store in Texas. 

It stopped selling assault-style weapons in 2015. 

A spokesperson for the retail giant said the decision was wasn’t related to preparations for next week’s election, reported Bloomberg.

Experts fear there may not be a definitive result for election for days or possibly weeks, in large part due to the popularity of postal voting during the pandemic. 

US Election 2020 – Postal Voting Explainer
US Election 2020 – Postal Voting Explainer

Results on the day are provisional until mail-in ballots are counted.

Mr Trump has repeatedly voiced concerns of a “rigged election” despite the director of the FBI saying there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

In a televised debate with Mr Biden, the President told US extremist group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”.