On Thursday, Walmart announced it would remove firearms displays from public view, citing “civil unrest” before reversing the announcement on Friday. Walmart was not alone in preparing the retail industry for post-election trouble.
After having firearms and ammunition removed from public displays in its stores in the United States, Walmart reversed course the next day.
- Walmart cited “civil unrest” earlier in the week that led to damage and looting of its stores in its decision to pull the products.
- The decision and its reversal comes in the final days of the presidential election. Before the reversal, the company noted the items were still available for customers to buy.
- The retail giant took similar precautions earlier this year in the wake of the protests and riots after the death of George Floyd.
- Data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation suggests Americans have been purchasing firearms at a record pace this year based on background check statistics. The NSSF estimates 5 million firearms have been sold, with 40% of buyers being first-time gun owners.
- Cities across the country are taking steps to prevent or mitigate potential post-election unrest. Chicago officials urged residents to demonstrate peacefully and to expect an increase in police presence. Some Washington, DC businesses are boarding up windows in preparation for possible violence.
- This is not the first time Walmart has made headlines for firearms-related announcements. Last year the company announced it would no longer sell certain calibers of ammunition.
- In its reporting of the reversal, Washington Post noted Walmart became an advocate for stricter gun laws and that its firearms-related announcements over the years has created backlash from customers.
- The New York Times framed the Walmart developments in the context of wider unrest, in which businesses have been advised on how to de-escalate tense and potentially violent situations after a “volatile” year.
- NBC News, in describing 2020’s social tumult, described social unrest related to police behavior as “heated protests” while characterizing opponents of various COVID restrictions as “protesters armed with assault rifles”.
- A National Review article emphasized this week’s protests in Philadelphia prompting Walmart’s decision started out as peaceful and became more violent.
- Conservative site Townhall noted each political side’s efforts to paint the other as the likely originators of potential post-election violence.
- The Federalist similarly mentioned Democrats’ fears President Trump “will not concede a loss during the 2020 election” while also pointing to anti-trump groups planning “mass riots and protests” if President Trump wins next week.
© Dallas Gerber, 2020