Retailer Walmart said Thursday it had pulled guns and ammunition off its shelves during the week to protect its employees and customers amid mounting tensions across the United States.
The move comes just days before the presidential poll, which must determine who – Democrat Joe Biden or Republican Donald Trump – will be given a four-year term in the White House.
The outgoing president has repeatedly questioned the reliability of the postal vote, which could also prolong the suspense on the evening of November 3, thus raising fears of a challenge to the results and even violence.
The retailer Walmart was however reassuring Thursday, by press release, explaining that its decision was not unusual.
We have recently witnessed some civil unrest and, as we have done on several occasions in recent years, have moved firearms and ammunition out of reach of customers, as a precaution, to ensure their safety and that of our associates.
Walmart has not yet determined when the merchandise will be back on shelves, the spokesperson said. Customers can still purchase these products, but they must request them to staff.
The largest retailer in the United States, Walmart sells firearms in about half of its 4,750 stores.
Retail businesses have been on the alert since the start of the year, after several episodes of violence – which sometimes led to window breaks, theft of goods or fires – in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles or Portland, in the wake of protests denouncing police brutality and racial profiling.
Record gun sales this year in the United States are also fueling concerns. An unprecedented number of Americans have also acquired a weapon this year for the first time.
In June, Walmart pulled guns and ammunition from shelves across the country after a black man, George Floyd, was killed at the hands of white police in a tragedy that raised anger and sparked protests in late May.
Last year, the retailer permanently stopped selling certain ammunition – including those intended for assault rifles – in its stores. The company has also taken a stand in favor of tougher rules around background checks for people wishing to obtain firearms.
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