As early voting exit polls and heavy Republican voter turnout contradicts national headlines, Walmart is preparing for civil unrest. The news comes after a Philadelphia Walmart was looted this week and dozens others looted in summer riots.
The nation’s largest retailer made the announcement Thursday that it will pull all guns and ammunition from its store displays on sales floors at stores this week in a bid to prevent the theft of firearms if stores are looted or broken into during potential mass civil unrest.
The Arkansas-based retail giant, whose owners have heavily donated to the Biden campaign this year, confirmed its new policy to news outlets, stipulating that customers can still buy firearms and ammo upon request.
“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,” Walmart said in a statement, according to the Wall Street Journal and other outlets.
It’s not clear if the company is referring to the possibility of civil unrest that may occur during the Nov. 3 election. Walmart pulled guns and ammo from sales floors earlier this year in response to widespread demonstrations, vandalism, looting, and riots following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Walmart stopped selling ammunition that can be used in semiautomatic rifles and pistols after the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in 2019.
This week, a Walmart in Philadelphia was looted and ransacked during protests and riots that were sparked by the officer-involved shooting of a black male allegedly armed with a knife.
In 2018, Walmart raised the minimum age to purchase ammo or guns to 21 following the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting. Years before that, the retailer stopped selling certain rifles, and about 20 years ago, it stopped selling handguns except in Alaska.
While the average of national polls for the last month have mostly showed Joe Biden ahead, recent polling shows Trump even or pulling close. In Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan, early voting by Republicans far exceeds the 2016 election with voter registration this election cycle also outpacing that of Democrats. In Broward County, Florida’s liberal stronghold, extremely low early voting by Democrats has alarmed party officials. Polling shows that Trump is receiving up to 76 percent of the Cuban American vote this year.
The news is no better for the Biden campaign in the midwest. After making overly-confident comments that Biden would win the upper midwest and Florida, the campaign this week hastily arranged stops for the former Vice President. The Democrat will appear in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota on Friday.