A photo showing guns displayed as back-to-school items in a Walmart store is going viral on social media, which prompted apologies from the retail giant Wednesday and a promise that the display will come down — as soon as the company locates the store in question, CNN Money reported.
The sign over a glass gun case reads "Own the school year like a hero," and Walmart called the display "truly awful" and "horrible," the network said.
The company is "not happy" and is "working diligently" to locate the store and display, Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson told CNNMoney, adding that it's unclear if the sign had been removed. Early reports said the store was in Indiana, WILX-TV said, but Walmart said that was an error.
But Leeanna May told the Washington Post that she took the photo during an early morning shopping trip Wednesday in Evansville after spotting the sign in the sporting goods section.
To the Post, May characterized the display as "disgusting."
“We have already lost so many innocent lives to guns,” she told the paper, adding that she alerted employees but couldn't find a manager.
Walmart tweeted May — whose account is now private, the Post reported — at 8:17 a.m. Wednesday to ask the location of the store.
The paper reported that after May said the store was in Evansville, Walmart replied at 9:33 a.m.:
“I’m happy to tell you our store manager Christina has removed the sign from the display. Thanks again for alerting us to this.”
Crowson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from the Post about May's claim.
Observers on social media are angry at the association of guns and schools in light of numerous mass shootings.
"It's not ok because of Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech, UCC and all the other school shootings," Michelle Parker wrote on Twitter.
But others are saying the image was likely the result of a customer stunt.
"A random customer picked up a sign and propped it on a gun case for giggles," Matthew Edmund wrote. "That's almost certainly how it happened."
"That's exactly right, and as usual I would bet it's the person taking the picture," another user remarked. "The left does this stuff CONSTANTLY."
"The angles seem wrong," another user said, "but maybe the person who propped the sign there was in a hurry."
"Yea, there's no way Walmart themselves could have done this or any of the employees," another noted. "Someone definitely just wanted a quick laugh."
Others wondered, even if the image is legitimate, what the big deal is.
"There was a time when schools had shooting clubs, kids used to bring guns in to fix in shop class, etc.," a Twitter user added. "Guns have NEVER been the problem."
Walmart said it believes the photo is legitimate and is working to determine if the sign was placed over the gun case by an employee or a shopper, WILX reported.
The retail giant has felt heat over its messaging in the past.
A Walmart in Panama City Beach, Florida, stacked boxes of Coca-Cola resembling the World Trade Center as an apparent 9/11 memorial last September, CNN said — and the display was quickly removed.
Walmart apologized for selling a "fat girl" costume on its website in 2014, the network noted.