MEC dropping products in response to Florida shooting

Mountain Equipment Co-op has officially severed ties with a U.S. manufacturer of bike helmets, goggles, camping gear, water bottles and – oh yeah, assault rifles – amidst mounting pressure from members of its outdoor lifestyle community.

Vista Outdoor, which owns dozens of popular sporting goods brands, has been taking a great deal of heat in recent weeks following the deadly shooting of 17 students at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

The controversy stems from a series of tweets and blog posts in which Vista was revealed to have strong financial ties to the NRA and, perhaps even more importantly, that it happens to be one of America’s biggest gun manufacturers.

Gun control advocates have been calling on stores that sell any goods produced by the Utah-based corporation’s non-weapon related brands, which include Giro, Camp Chef, Razkulls, Bushnell and Bollé, to stop ordering from Vista immediately.

MEC alone has already received more than 50,000 signatures on just one petition related to the boycott.

A frenzy of social media activity last weekend prompted the famously ethical Canadian co-op chain to address its customers on Monday, but executives said little more other than that they were investigating further.

This changed on Thursday – just one day after both Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart took steps to restrict semi-automatic gun sales at their U.S. stores – with the release of an open letter to MEC members from CEO David Labistour.

“It has recently come to light that several brands MEC sells are owned by a corporation that has holdings in the manufacture of assault-style weapons,” he wrote in the letter, which was published on the company’s website Thursday morning.

“Thousands of MEC members have contacted us to express their concerns and to ask that we stop selling products made by these brands,” he continued. “The fact is, the debate has involved us and as a member-based organization we are compelled to respond.”

Labistour does note that some members had contacted him to say “purchasing decisions like these should be left to individual consumers.”

Still, he said, after careful consideration, MEC has decided to suspend any further orders with the five brands it carries owned by Vista Outdoor, effective immediately.

Existing inventory from Bollé, Bushnell, CamelBak, Camp Chef and Jimmy Styks will remain on the chain’s shelves until all of it has sold through.

Many MEC members – of which there are 5 million across the country – are now praising the co-op today for taking a stance against gun violence following our southern neighbour’s most-recent mass shooting.

“Another business hearing the loud roar of those seeking sensible gun laws,” wrote Graham Roberts on Twitter. 

“Interesting to see a Canadian company separating themselves from a brand that sells guns in America,” wrote another Canadian, Lorinda Bye. “Amazing to think this is because of brave kids who have spoken out.”

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