Walmart has reversed its decision to pull guns and ammo out of sales displays nationwide. Bloomberg reports the company made the decision Friday, just 24 hours after it had removed the items for fear of looting and rioting.
“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, according to Bloomberg.
“As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today.”
Guns and ammo were pulled off Walmart shelves on Thursday after one of its stores in Philadelphia was looted and damaged.
Walmart pulled guns and ammo from sales floors earlier this year in response to widespread demonstrations, vandalism, looting, and riots that occurred across the nation.
Guns and ammo “do remain available for purchase by customers,” the retailer had said in its statement on Thursday, adding that “we only sell firearms in approximately half of our stores, primarily where there are large concentrations of hunters, sportsmen, and sportswomen.”
The firm 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.
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.
Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon said last year that the company will sell firearms that are used primarily for hunting.
“As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” he said. “Our remaining assortment will be even more focused on the needs of hunting and sport-shooting enthusiasts.”
“I’m a gun owner myself,” he added in the statement at the time. “In a complex situation lacking a simple solution, we are trying to take constructive steps to reduce the risk that events like these will happen again,” he added. “The status quo is unacceptable.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms trade group, said in August that about 12 million background checks were carried out between January and July 2020, which is up about 72 percent from the same time last year. About 5 million of those purchases involved first-time gun buyers, according to the group.
“This is a tectonic shift in the firearm and ammunition industry marketplace and complete transformation of today’s gun-owning community,” said Lawrence G. Keane, an executive of the organization. “These first-time buyers represent a group of people who, until now, were agnostic regarding firearm ownership. That’s rapidly changing, and these Americans are taking hold of their God-given right to keep and bear arms and protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Walmart operates more than 4,700 stores across the United States, according to reports.