Gun Debate: REI Places ‘Hold’ On Vista’s CamelBak, Other Brands

In the wake of a consumer petition, REI announced it will place a hold on future orders of products from Vista Outdoor.

REI Vista Outdoor

REI has placed “a hold on future orders” of products from brands under the Vista Outdoor umbrella in the wake of a roiling debate on guns and the influence of the NRA.

Vista Outdoor owns many popular outdoors brands like CamelBak, Giro, and Bell. But it also manufacturers guns and ammunition like those used in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last month.

It owns firearms manufacturer Savage Arms and ammunition maker Federal Premium. It also contributes to the NRA. Consumers launched a petition for REI to stop carrying Vista Outdoor products that has thus far netted more than 15,000 signatures.

The Savage MSR10 Hunter

Vista Outdoor: REI Statement

REI released the following brief statement this evening:

REI does not sell guns. We believe that it is the job of companies that manufacture and sell guns and ammunition to work towards common sense solutions that prevent the type of violence that happened in Florida last month. In the last few days, we’ve seen such action from companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart and we applaud their leadership.

This week, we have been in active discussions with Vista Outdoor, which has recently acquired several companies that are longtime partners of REI. These include Giro, Bell, Camelbak, Camp Chef and Blackburn. Vista also owns Savage Arms, which manufactures guns including “modern sporting rifles.”

This morning 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.

Companies are showing they can contribute if they are willing to lead. We encourage Vista to do just that.

For the sake of transparency, Monopoint Media, a company that previously shared resources with GearJunkie, worked with Vista Outdoor on a project in 2015.

Retailers, Guns, and the NRA

The debate about Vista Outdoor has been heated. Anti-gun consumers lambaste the brand for supporting the NRA and manufacturing “assault rifles.” Pro-gun consumers note that Vista brands contribute millions of dollars to conservation each year through federal excise tax.

Earlier today, Canadian retailer MEC announced it would stop orders for products from the Vista Outdoor family of brands. This came in the wake of several other major gun-related policy changes in the past week.

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Dick’s Sporting Goods, the largest sports retailer in the United States, announced it would stop selling “assault style” firearms. And on Wednesday, Walmart announced it would not sell firearms or ammunition to people under 21 years old.

CamelBak Statement

CamelBak today made the brief statement about its relationship with Vista Outdoor:

As you may know, in the wake of the recent tragic shooting at a Florida school, there have been calls on social media for a boycott of CamelBak products because of its association with Vista Outdoor, a company that also owns separate businesses in the shooting sports industry. 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. That is not the case. Our brand falls within the Outdoor Products segment of our company, which operates separately from Vista Outdoor’s Shooting Sports segment. Since 1989, CamelBak has been committed to forever changing the way people hydrate and perform. Our passion and love for the outdoors is unchanged. We are deeply committed to the individuals and communities we serve and we proudly partner with organizations to promote the enjoyment of the outdoors.

We recognize, support and respect the right of every individual to decide for themselves what brands they will purchase based on whatever criteria they believe are important. As we drive to make positive change, it is our hope that you stand by our nearly 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.

For now, REI and MEC will stop ordering CamelBak and other products from Vista Outdoor. It will be informative to see how consumers react and how the brands work moving forward.

We will monitor this story as it unfolds.

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By
Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.
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