Mountain Equipment Co-op’s senior management is meeting today following a social media outcry as consumers connected some brands sold by the retailer to a major U.S. ammunition and gun manufacturer.
The Vancouver-based outdoor apparel and goods chain sells Vista Outdoor Inc.-owned brands, including Giro, Camelbak and Blackburn.
Utah-based Vista also designs, develops and manufactures ammunition, long guns and related equipment, according to its website.
The company owns Savage Arms, which sells multiple semi-automatic rifles. Those are similar to the type of rifle a shooter used earlier this month to kill 17 people at a Parkland, Fla., school.
‘Urgent ethical obligation’
While MEC doesn’t sell firearms, it does stock the helmets, sunglasses and other outdoor goods Vista makes.
A Change.org petition calls on the retailer to stop carrying the brands.
“Given the recent massacre of high school students in Parkland, Fla., MEC is facing an urgent ethical obligation: to act in accordance with its ‘mission and values,'” reads the petition, which had been signed by about 400 people as of Monday afternoon.
The company’s mission and values include seeking “to motivate other individuals and organizations to act for people and the planet.”
Vancouverite Richard Campbell said he hopes other Canadian sports stores will also stop carrying the products. The 53-year-old said he learned last week about the connection between Vista — which lists the National Rifle Association (NRA) on its Partners page — and firearms.
“The company is directly involved in U.S. politics,” he said. “It gives funding to the NRA and other gun advocacy groups and they also make some weapons and ammo that are not that responsible.”
“It’s actually money from sales of products in Canada that is helping to fund this company in giving donations and other support to these lobby groups, so there’s really a direct connection to that.”
Some people aired their concerns to the company on its Twitter and Facebook pages, asking it to stop selling Vista-owned brands.
Neither MEC nor Vista immediately responded to a request for comment.
MEC management to discuss concerns
However, MEC answered posts on its social media pages, telling visitors their comments have been passed on to the company’s management.
The company, which is a consumer co-operative that sells exclusively to its more than 4 million members, tweeted Sunday evening thanking the members who contacted them with concerns.
“Senior (management) will be discussing this first thing on Monday,” the company said in a tweet.
It expects to have an update later in the day.