Massacre Blowback Threatens Gun Companies as Retailers Flee

Eileen GuzmanMar 04, 2018

"My responsibility as CEO is to ensure that we make thoughtful, informed decisions in the best interest of our Co-op and effect change where this is possible and consistent with our presence in the marketplace", CEO David Labistour says in a statement to members. "In the last few days, we've seen such action from companies like Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart and we applaud their leadership", REI said in statement.

In the letter, Labistour said, "Two weeks ago, 17 people lost their lives in a senseless and tragic school shooting in the U.S. The issue of gun violence and questions surrounding responsible gun use, ownership and manufacturing have made headlines around the world". But Vista also has a Shooting Sports segment that designs, develops, produces and sources firearms and ammunition. A petition to REI calling on the retailer to stop selling Vista products also began circling last week. The statement goes on: "This week, we have been in active discussions with Vista Outdoor, which has recently acquired several companies that are longtime partners of REI".

Labistour said in a telephone interview Thursday that he listened to a spectrum of opinions, ranging from boycotting the brand to leaving the decision to individual consumers.

Vista did not return an email seeking comment.

The Utah-based corporation owns Savage Arms, one of the leading producers of semi-automatic weapons in the U.S. Vista Outdoors owns a number of brads sold by MEC, including CamelBak, Bushnell, Bollé, Camp Chef and Jimmy Styks.

Internet petitions called on US co-op REI and Canada's Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) to drop goods from Vista Outdoor, which owns Savage Arms, a company which makes rapid-fire semi-automatic rifles with high-capacity magazines.

In its statement Thursday, REI commended these other retailers for taking a stance in the debate over gun control.

Vista Outdoor owns 50 brands, of which 13 make either guns - including Savage - ammunition or gun accessories.

Kroger followed suit Wednesday, imposing age restrictions on gun sales at the grocery chain's Fred Meyer stores. L.L. Bean said via Twitter late Thursday it will implement the same policy at its flagship store in Freeport, Maine - the only location licensed to sell firearms.

Stanton said he hadn't been aware of the link between Vista and CamelBak, which he described as providing a small portion of their overall sales. They're going to ban hydration packs, binoculars, bike helmets and more from popular manufacturers because a parent company also owns a gun maker. As CamelBak is the most well-known maker of hydration supplies for outdoor enthusiasts, those sales will move from a Canadian retailer to US based Amazon.com. "We encourage Vista to do just that". Retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods have said they won't sell assault rifles any more. "Our brand falls within the Outdoor Products segment of our company, which operates separately from Vista Outdoor's Shooting Sports segment".

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