Walmart removed guns and ammunition from its sales floors this week, aiming to head off potential theft of firearms if stores are broken into amid social unrest, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The retail giant, which sells firearms in half of its 4,700 U.S. stores, said customers can still purchase guns and ammunition on request.
“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,” a Walmart spokesman said.
There have been days of violent protests and looting this week in Philadelphia after police fatally shot a Black man holding a knife.
Walmart asked staff to pull guns from shelves “due to the current unrest in isolated areas of the country and out of an abundance of caution.” The chain also removed firearms and ammunition from stores this summer after George Floyd’s killing when several Walmart stores were damaged.
The country’s largest retailer is still a big seller of guns and ammunition.
Last year, it stopped selling ammunition that can be used in semiautomatic rifles and handguns after a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso left 23 people dead. In 2018, the company raised the minimum age to purchase guns or ammunition to 21 after a the Parkland high school massacre.
Demand for firearms has skyrocketed this year as measured by FBI background checks.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated a record 12.1 million gun checks for January through July, up 72 percent from last year.