Will REI, MEC drop brands owned by NRA-supporting Vista Outdoor?

The giant outdoor retailers are being pressured by members.
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Vista Outdoor headquarters

Two giant outdoor retailers — one in Canada, one in the U.S. — are facing increasing pressures from members to cut ties with several brands under the parent company Vista Outdoor, which also owns a semi-automatic rifle manufacturer.

In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting on Feb. 14, consumers have spotlighted the moral responsibilities that Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) and the U.S.’s REI have in associating with the publicly-traded Utah company, a strong supporter of the National Rifle Association.

Vista Outdoor, through various acquisitions, owns Bolle, Bushnell, CamelBak, Camp Chef and Jimmy Styks SUPs as well as the bike brands Bell and Giro. It also owns Savage Arms, maker of AR-15-style firearms like the one used in the shooting.

MEC in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday said that thousands of members have reached out on both sides of the debate, and top executives are continuing to mull a decision about their supply chain. The company said MEC does not sell Giro and Bell.

“Many of you have told us you want us to immediately stop carrying products from any brands owned by Vista Outdoor because of their support for the NRA and ownership of other brands that manufacture automatic weapons and ammunition,” MEC said on Twitter on Monday.

“We’ve also heard from many of you who disagree: members who still want to be able to buy brands like CamelBak at MEC, and who think purchasing decision should be up to individual consumers. Some members question whether including these brands in our assortment has any impact on gun violence - while others see a direct link.”

Members of both REI and MEC have garnered support through various online petitions for the retailers to drop the various outdoor brands from the shelves. The first created Friday pressuring MEC has more than 41,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

Two others petitions urging REI are growing by the hundreds and thousands.

“Given the recent massacre of high school students in Parkland, Florida, MEC, is facing an urgent ethical obligation: to act in accordance with its 'Mission and Values' and immediately stop selling brands owned by Vista Outdoor, a corporation whose profits are derived from the production of assault weapons capable of mass murder,” the petition against MEC said.

SNEWS has yet to hear direct responses from MEC, Vista Outdoor, REI, and CamelBak. We also reached out to four independent outdoor shops that carry these brands, and have not heard back from them as of press time.

Many cycling retailers, such as Boulder Cycle Sports and Portland’s Sellwood Cycle Repair, have already made up their minds that they will not be carrying Vista Outdoor-owned brands.

And mega-retailer Dick's Sporting Goods announced today that it will cease selling assault style weapons of any kind.

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“This information reinforced our decision and belief that we should no longer support the flow of funds to an organization that harnesses their dollars to donate to the NRA, sell assault weapons to the public, and contributes to trophy hunting,” said Boulder Cycle Sports in its statement.

Over the last 5 days, the publicly-traded company's stock (VSTO) has dropped 4.22 percent to $17.23 per share.

UPDATE: For the latest on this story, click here.

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