REI Stops Selling 50 NRA-Linked Brands

Canadian outdoor store bows to pressure on guns

Now outdoor gear buyers are calling for retailers to stop selling Vista Outdoor's products.

An online protest against Mountain Equipment Co-op last weekend was a small one but it quickly led to a big decision: On Thursday, the outdoor-gear retailer cut ties with brands that make water bottles and stand-up paddleboards but are owned by a US company that also sells assault rifles and ammunition.

The head of Mountain Equipment Co-op says the company isn't rushing to make a decision about its supply chain after consumers on social media connected brands sold at its stores to a major USA gun manufacturer. But it also manufacturers guns and ammunition like those used in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last month.

The mass shooting spurred a debate on USA gun control and it has now spilled across the border into Canada, where more than 50,000 people signed an online petition urging MEC, which has over five million members, to sever ties with US gunmakers. The co-op doesn't sell guns.

Late Thursday, REI issued a statement noting that while it does not sell guns, it expects companies that do to help prevent mass shootings.

On Wednesday, Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods took steps to restrict gun sales. MEC said it will stop selling any new products from Vista, which also owns Savage Arms that makes assault rifles. The statement said REI will "place a hold on future orders of products that Vista sells through REI while we assess how Vista proceeds". "Companies are showing they can contribute if they are willing to lead".

Vista did not immediately responded to a request for comment but MEC encouraged consumers to keep sharing their views via social media. But in 2015, in a bid to diversify its holdings, Vista started buying non-shooting outdoors and bike companies.

CamelBak is based in Petaluma, Calif., apart from its Utah parent, and sought on Thursday to distance itself from Vista Outdoor.

"Canadian Tire and its family of companies carries a wide assortment of products ranging from sporting goods and casual apparel to automotive and home decor", company spokeswoman Joscelyn Dosanjh said in an e-mailed statement.

Early Thursday morning, MEC chief executive David Labistour announced in an open letter to MEC's five-million-plus members that the co-op would stop selling the Vista Outdoor brands. This came in the wake of several other major gun-related policy changes in the past week. Those include Bollé, Bushnell, CamelBak, Camp Chef, and Jimmy Styks.

Dicks also said it will stop selling assault-style rifles in its Field & Stream stores, as well as high-capacity magazines.

The controversy began to arise after the murder of 17 people at a Florida high school in mid-February. That is not the case. Since 1989, CamelBak has been committed to forever changing the way people hydrate and perform. As we drive to make positive change, it is our hope that you stand by our almost 30-year reputation as we maintain our promise to obsess on what we make, how we make it, and the way it impacts people's lives and the environment.

MEC had long-standing connections to brands such as CamelBak, which predate current corporate ownership.

We will monitor this story as it unfolds. It will be informative to see how consumers react and how the brands work moving forward. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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