Americans don’t have to go without guns on the shelves before the presidential election. Following the announcement that it would temporarily remove rifles from the display, American retail company Walmart, one of the largest arms dealers in the United States, announced on Friday that it would display weapons and ammunition as usual. The company justified the decision with the comparatively limited civil unrest after the police shots on the African American Walter Wallace in Philadelphia. After the death of the twenty-seven-year-old, who attacked the officers with a knife on Monday, several hundred people took to the streets in the past week. As in previous riots, there was also looting, including in stores belonging to the Walmart chain.
Many Americans had interpreted the company’s decision to stop displaying weapons as a precautionary measure for possible unrest in the presidential election on Tuesday. Organizations such as The Carter Center have repeatedly warned of rioting in the past few weeks. “We fear that guns, protests and the presidential election are not a good combination,” said Hrair Balian, head of the center’s conflict management department, told NPR. The Quaker community in Maryland near Washington has also been preparing for possible protests for weeks. They fear that if President Donald Trump declares his victory before all votes are counted, there will be a riot. “That would be a coup. The very word ‘coup’ should be a foreign word in the United States as a beacon of democracy, ”said Alaine Duncan, a member of the religious association. According to a survey by USA Today and Suffolk University, three out of four Americans surveyed are concerned about possible rioting.
66 percent more weapons sold than in the previous month
In addition to the corona pandemic and possible tightening of gun laws in the event that Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, moves into the White House, fear of unrest is driving gun sales even higher. For September, dealers reported around 1.8 million rifles and handguns sold – around 66 percent more than in the same month last year. Weapons manufacturers such as Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Smith & Wesson as well as ammunition manufacturers such as Vista Outdoor multiplied their sales. From January to July, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which monitors investigations of potential gun buyers by the American Federal Police (FBI), counted a new record of more than twelve million applicants. Almost five million Americans bought a rifle, pistol or revolver for the first time in the past few months. Just under six out of ten new shooters were African American.
The Walmart group, which sells weapons in around every second of its more than 4,700 stores between New York and Los Angeles, had temporarily banned rifles from the shelves at the beginning of June. After the death of the African American George Floyd under the knee of a white policeman, the Black Lives Matter movement had looted and protested across the country. Ahead of the presidential election on Tuesday, the United States was again rocked by unrest over the weekend. At an event by Trump supporters in Beverly Hills on Saturday rioting broke out when members of left groups disrupted the USA Freedom Rally. In North Carolina, an important swing state, the police also used pepper spray to break up protest marches.