Bicycling advocates are calling for a boycott of popular Bell, Giro, Blackburn, CamelBak, and CoPilot products after discovering that they’re made by the same company — Vista Outdoor — that also makes assault rifles and ammunition. At least one retailer, MEC of Canada, has announced it would stop selling Vista products.
The Utah-based Vista Outdoor makes and sells, among other products, Federal Premium ammunition and Savage Arms rifles and semi-automatic weapons.
Calls for a boycott arose after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead. The suspect, Nikolas Jacob Cruz, 19, used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in the shooting. A Savage Axis bolt-action rifle (made by Vista Outdoor) was among the weapons in a photo of his so-called arsenal that appeared on social media, but not used in the shooting.
One of the biggest targets for boycotters has been the National Rifle Association. Its message to arm the public in response to the school shootings has been met with announcements by major corporations to cut ties with the group.
Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced on Wednesday that they would no longer sell guns to persons under 21, and stop selling assault-style guns in their stores.
Attention to Vista Outdoor’s broad collection of products arose late last week.
According to the latest financial filing, chairman and CEO Mark DeYoung, 58, has been a member of the NRA. The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange as VSTO. It’s stock price fell 7% after the mass shooting in Florida, according to CNN.
One of the first companies to respond to the pitch for a Vista Outdoor boycott is Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). The company announced Thursday that it would stop selling Vista brands Bushnell, CamelBak, Camp Chef, Jimmy Styks and Bolle gear after its current inventory is sold out. A petition at Change.org had gathered more than 40,000 signatures, and on Monday night MEC said it was studying the issue. (MEC doesn’t sell firearms, but it does sell many outdoor products that Vista makes).
Meanwhile, a petition asking REI to not sell Vista products has gained more than 9,000 signatures as of Wednesday.
REI has been silent on the issue. REI announced late Thursday that it would stop ordering 50 brands from Vista Outdoor, including Camelbak, Bell, and Giro. In a statement, REI said:
“We learned that Vista does not plan to make a public statement that outlines a clear plan of action. As a result, we have decided to place a hold on future orders of products that Vista sells through REI while we assess how Vista proceeds.”
Some bike shops already are taking action.
Velo Cult Bike Shop in Portland posted on its Facebook page on Feb. 23:
Velo Cult does not and will never carry any products from Bell, Giro, Blackburn, CambelBak, Copilot, or any other subsidiaries of Vista Outdoor. Any company which manufactures guns and ammunition is profiting directly from the NRA and is complicit in its agenda. Let’s keep this about the NRA and not the guns. The NRA sucks.
Another Portland bike shop, Sellwood Cycle Repair, posted this on their Facebook page:
Other than that, I haven’t seen any similar social media announcements from bike shops in Seattle, although I’d be happy to publicize and support those who do.
Beyond the Vista Outdoor manufacture of weapons and ammunition, it has been reported that the company has a Political Action Committee that funds politicians who oppose protections for public land. Among those beneficiaries are Utah Republican congressmen Robert Bishop and Chris Stewart.