Alleged Walmart back-to-school gun photos went viral on Wednesday, as social media users took the retail giant to task for seemingly marketing guns as must-have items for schoolchildren. And while it’s not sure why this was the case, or if the image was merely Photoshopped by a third-party source, the company issued an apology for the photos, also promising to investigate further into the situation.
As reported by CNBC, the outrage started on Wednesday, as a photo of a back-to-school banner with the caption “Own the school year like a hero” above a glass case full of rifles went viral on social media. Twitter and Reddit users took to the internet to complain about how Walmart’s back-to-school campaign appeared to include guns for sale, and as the photo continued to circulate online, reports were suggesting that the Walmart store that put up the controversial sign was in Evansville, Indiana.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Evansville woman Leeanna May insisted on the legitimacy of the Walmart back-to-school gun photo, telling the publication that she and her husband saw the “disgusting” display while at their local Walmart branch on Wednesday morning.
“We have already lost so many innocent lives to guns,” May told the Post, adding that she had tried informing store officials, but couldn’t get a manager to assist her.
With the internet in an uproar over what looked to be a callous endorsement of guns for young people amid continued concern over school shootings, Walmart issued a prepared statement Thursday, apologizing for the photo, and noting that officials are investigating into the situation and the circumstances behind it.
“What’s seen in this photograph would never be acceptable in our stores. We regret this situation and are looking into how it could have happened,” read Walmart’s statement, as quoted by the HuffPost.
Speaking to the HuffPost, Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson commented on the back-to-school gun photo, saying that the company is “actively trying” to identify the exact store where the sign was put up. He also debunked Leeanna May’s earlier statements, saying that the store was definitely not in Evansville, Indiana, based on the photos and videos from the store in question.
Additionally, Crowson said that Walmart is looking into the possibility of the photo being a prank, or if someone had used Photoshop to make it appear as if the retailer was encouraging schoolchildren to use guns.
The Washington Post noted that Walmart’s alleged back-to-school gun photo is not the first time in recent months that the company has dealt with potential press relations nightmares over careless marketing. Last month, the retailer drew criticism for selling a third-party wig cap sold in the color “n****r brown.” A Panama City Beach, Florida Walmart had also made the news last year, for using Coca-Cola products to recreate the World Trade Center tragedy, and using a banner that read “9-11-01: WE WILL NEVER FORGET,” with the New York skyline in the background.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]