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Vancouver-based MEC severs ties with gun manufacturer after outcry

03 March 2018

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 USA company that also sells assault rifles and ammunition.

Running Room founder and president John Stanton said his stores have carried CamelBak products like water bottles and backpacks for the past 15 years, but will heed a recent surge of customer feedback urging them to drop the brand.

In a statement posted to its website Thursday, REI, a large outdoor recreation co-op, announced it would place a hold on orders from Vista Outdoor following last month's shooting.

MEC, based in Vancouver, sells neither firearms nor ammunition, but said it would quit selling five brands owned by Vista, including CamelBak, Bollé and Bushnell, in an effort to distance itself from the USA gun-maker. The decision came a few hours after REI's Canadian counterpart, Mountain Equipment Co-op, took a similar step.

MEC doesn't sell guns, but had faced a petition calling on it to stop selling brands owned by Vista Outdoor because the USA company also develops and manufactures firearms similar to the type of rifle used in a recent Florida mass shooting.

Vista owns Savage Arms, which sells multiple semi-automatic rifles.

Within the past week, Dick's Sporting Goods has discontinued the sale of assault-style weapons altogether, banned the sale of high-capacity magazines and banned the sale of other guns to anyone under 21.

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Running Room, as with MEC, said it will do a review of all its suppliers and vendors "for any other potential conflicts". "Companies are showing they can contribute if they are willing to lead".

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

Vista Outdoor's spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a Salt Lake Tribune request for comment.

"If you start thinking about the global supply chain, every one of us is involved in something that is against our values: If it's not Vista, maybe you're connected to someone who designs logos for one of Vista's brands", Gupta said.

CamelBak issued a statement on Thursday, in part saying that "a major concern for the boycott centers around the incorrect assumption that the purchase of any of our products may support a cause that does not fit the mission/values of our brand".

MEC, widely regarded as a store for outdoor gear, have never sold weapons in their store. "MEC has sent out their virtue-signal and it is a rejection of the 2.2 million honest and trustworthy Canadians that lawfully own firearms". "He joined 170 Outdoor Industry Association CEOs in 'declaring protecting public lands as our top priority.' And yet, REI is selling products and brands owned by Vista Outdoor, a company that not only supports the NRA but is using its [PAC] to fund the congressmen who are leading the assault on protecting public lands". Existing inventory will remain on our shelves until it has sold through.

"We believe that the commonality is around gun control and the lack of sensible gun control", said Labistour of the feedback.

Vancouver-based MEC severs ties with gun manufacturer after outcry