Walmart Puts Guns and Ammunition Back on Display After Fears Over Civil Unrest, Looting

Guns will once again be displayed at Walmart after the retailer announced it was performing a reversal on a decision to remove its weapons displays.

The supermarket giant had announced late this week that it was pulling weapons and ammunition from its shelves for fear of civil unrest following clashes between protesters and police in the wake of fatal police shootings.

The retailer said on Thursday that although customers would still be able to purchase weapons and ammunition at many of its stores, the items would now be stored out of public view to discourage theft amid heightened worry over looting.

On Friday, Walmart reversed the decision and announced it would reinstate the displays.

Kory Lundberg, a spokesperson for Walmart, told NBC News that it had made the decision to remove the items out of an "abundance of caution" in response to "isolated civil unrest." Lundberg told the news channel on Friday that "as the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today."

The reversal comes days before the US election on November 3 and amid mounting fears of an upsurge in violence.

Earlier this month, Newsweek reported on a new poll which suggested both Republicans and Democrats expect an "increase in violence" connected to the general election.

The survey, conducted by YouGov for Braver Angels, found that more than 53 percent of Democrats and more than 59 percent of Republicans "agree or strongly agree" that there will be an increase in violence as a result of the November 3 election. A majority (57 percent) of independent voters also expect violence.

The poll found that nearly 56 percent of Americans expect an uptick in violence related to the election. The survey was conducted between October 1 to 2 and polled more than 1,500 respondents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

YouGov also carried out a survey, again for Braver Angels, regarding whether Americans would see the presidential election winner as legitimate. Americans were split about evenly, with around half saying people "will generally agree on who is the legitimately elected President of the United States," and around half saying people would not agree.

Newsweek reported earlier this week that annual gun sales have skyrocketed compared to this time last year, with background checks for gun purchases up 72 percent between January and July compared to the same period last year, according to The National Shooting Sports Foundation. The foundation told NPR at the time that 40 percent of all firearms were being sold to first-time gun owners.

In July a report by the Brookings Institute said that 3 million more firearms had been sold from March to June than had been sold the year before.

The institute said the increase could be a possible consequence of the COVID-19 shutdown and civil unrest following the murder of Black Minneapolis resident George Floyd by a white police officer.

Guns at Walmart
File photograph of Walmart in Fort Worth selling a variety of rifles BB guns and ammunition in 2015. Walmart has announced it is reversing its decision to ban the sale of weapons from its stores. Barbara Alper/Getty