Walmart returning guns to sales floor reversing earlier decision related to election unrest

A day after saying it had moved firearms and ammunition off the sales floor “as a precaution,” Walmart has reversed course saying it will start making those items visible again today. 

“After civil unrest earlier this week resulted in damage to several of our stores … we asked stores to move firearms and ammunition from the sales floor to a secure location in the back of the store in an abundance of caution,” the retailer said in a statement. “As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today.”

It was an abrupt turnabout. The Wall Street Journal was first to report that Walmart was moving the merchandise to ward off the stealing of firearms if stores are broken into amid potential unrest sparked by the upcoming presidential election.

The nation’s largest retailer says that it has taken similar action in recent years to maintain the safety of its employees and customers. 

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Walmart sells firearms in roughly half of its 4,700 stores.

File photo taken in 2017 shows the company sign at a Walmart store in Hialeah Gardens, Fla.

A new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll found Americans are increasingly worried about whether voting will be peaceful and the election’s outcome will be broadly accepted after a tumultuous campaign season finally comes to an end.

Three of 4 voters express concern about the possibility of violence on Election Day. And only 1 in 4 say they are “very confident” that the U.S. will have a peaceful transfer of power if Democratic challenger Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump. 

Walmart has taken steps to curtail the sale of ammunition and guns over the years. In the early 1990s, the retailer stopped selling handguns. They’re now only for sale in Alaska. In 2015, it halted sales of modern sporting rifles, and in 2018, Walmart banned sales of firearms to anyone under 21.

Fears of social unrest and expectations that a Democratic sweep of the White House and Congress could lead to stricter gun laws has caused gunmaker stock prices to spike. 

Contributing: Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY

Follow USA TODAY reporter Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones