Walmart has removed guns and ammunition from its store shelves in the U.S. as a precautionary measure following the unrest in Philadelphia after a Black man was fatally shot by police, according to reports.
While the firearms will be available for purchase at the Walmart stores, customers will be required to specifically request for them.
“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,” reports quoted a Walmart spokesperson as saying.
Monday afternoon, two police officers in Philadelphia shot more than a dozen times and killed Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who was brandishing a knife and walking into a street.
Wallace’s family reportedly said he had mental health issues and they had called 911 to summon an ambulance for help before he was fatally shot.
The police shooting of Wallace is seen as the latest incident of police using excessive force when dealing with Black people. The incident had resulted in two days of violent clashes between law enforcement and protesters in Philadelphia.
Walmart had implemented similar measures in the past too, including in June following nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in police custody.
Walmart, the country’s biggest retailer, is also one of the largest sellers of firearms and ammunition. The retail giant is under intense pressure from advocacy groups and even its own workers to stop selling guns altogether following the mass shooting incidents in the U.S. in recent years.
Nevertheless, the company has tightened its gun policies following the incidents of mass shooting. Walmart had stopped sales of assault rifles at its stores in 2015, and raised the minimum age for gun purchases to 21 from 18 in 2018 after a mass shooting in Parkland.
Wlamart has also discontinued sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition in response to the shooting in its El Paso store in August 2019 that killed 22 people. The company had asked Congress to strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger.
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