Citing what it described as âisolatedâ fears of unrest, the retail chain said the measure was being taken in the interests of âthe safety of our employees and customersâ.
The company confirmed that guns and ammunition remain âavailable for purchase by customersâ who make a special request to staff.
Walmart sells guns in nearly half of its 4,700 outlets in the US, though it stopped selling assault weapons in 2015. The company said it âonlyâ sells firearms in areas where it deems âthere are large concentrations of hunters, sportsmen, and sportswomenâ.
Walmart did not say how long guns would remain out of view, but it did point to the fact that there had already been instances of unrest in recent days in making the decision.
The policy comes after the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr, a 27-year-old African American, in Philadelphia. While his family said that he was suffering from mental health issues, police maintained that they shot him as he refused to drop a knife despite being asked to do so repeatedly.
His death triggered protests across the city, during which some shops were looted.
âWe 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,â the Walmart statement said.
It is not the first time that Walmart has taken arms and ammunition off the shelves. In June 2020, Walmart had done the same after some of their stores were damaged in protests following the killing of George Floyd, 46, in Minneapolis, an incident that made global headlines.
In 2019, after a couple of incidents of shooting in Walmart stores, including one in El Paso which left 22 dead, Walmart stopped sales of some types of ammunition used in assault-style weapons and handguns.
The retail chain has also requested customers do not openly carry firearms in its store, even if the laws in a particular state allow it.