Retail giant's backflip on chilling decision ahead of US election

Retail giant Walmart has backflipped on a chilling decision to keep guns away from customers ahead of the US election next week.

On Thursday it said it would still sell guns and ammunition but would not display them in retail spaces, citing unrest in Philadelphia this week.

Some observers had also seen the move as an indicator of worry ahead of next week's US presidential election.

Guns for sale in a cabinet at a Walmart store in the US.
Walmart has reversed a decision to take guns and ammunition off the shop floor. Source: Getty

However the world's largest store chain performed a 180-degree turn just a day later, saying it would keep guns in shopping areas.

"After civil unrest earlier this week resulted in damage to several of our stores, consistent with actions we took over the summer, 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," Walmart said on Friday (local time).

"As the current incidents have remained geographically isolated, we have made the decision to begin returning these products to the sales floor today."

Warning over ‘GI Joes’ at polling booths

Walmart's reversal comes just days ahead of the November 3 presidential election amid unease over the possibility of civil unrest and voter intimidation.

On Friday, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said on CNN that efforts to intimidate voters would be prosecuted.

"The 2nd Amendment does not protect people who pretend to be a militia and have not been summoned by a governor," Krasner told the network.

"A militia is not something you just get to be by saying it. A militia is something you get to be when government authority summons you.

A customer walks towards the entry of a Walmart store in California.
Some saw the move as an indicator of worry ahead of the US election. Source: Getty

"So if you want to dress up like GI Joe and claim you are 'protecting the polls' when we all know you're intimidating voters, you're getting locked up."

Walmart sells guns and ammunition at about half its US stores, primarily in locations where hunting is popular.

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