MEC will stop buying products from U.S. company with subsidiary that sells assault-style weapons

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      A Vancouver-based retail co-op is cutting ties with Vista Outdoor, which owns such brands as Bollé, Bushnell, CamelBak, Camp Chef, Jimmy Styks, Bell (bicycle helmets), and Giro.

      MEC, also known as Mountain Equipment Co-op, made the decision after nearly 50,000 people signed an online petition demanding this.

      It's because Vista Outdoor also owns several "shooting brands", including Savage Arms, which produces semi-automatic weapons. 

      Savage Arms manufactured the gun used in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

      Vista Outdoor is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and supports the National Rifle Association. 

      In an open letter, MEC CEO David Labistour stated that thousands of co-op members asked for a halt to the sale of Vista Outdoor products.

      Other members, he noted, felt that decisions to buy these products should be left to individual customers and that MEC should not get involved. 

      So after "careful consideration", he said that MEC will sell its remaining inventory of Vista Outdoor products and suspend any future purchases.

      Labistour added that MEC will "continue to engage with these brands as well as our peers in the outdoor industry in North America in ways that are consistent with our mission and values".

      "We welcome opportunities to engage with other organizations to help build consensus around the potential for constructive social impact related to purchasing," he stated.

      Labistour noted that "many of us come from parts of the world where we have witnessed the use and impact of guns first-hand".

      "I include myself in that community," he revealed. "I have proudly served in the military and grew up in a rural area where hunting was commonplace.

      "I can readily identify with our members who are on all sides of this debate," Labistour continued. "At the same time, my personal experience has taught me about the power of engagement. I believe that engagement is the path to change, as tough as it might be."

      Labistour grew up in South Africa and once told the Globe and Mail that he was in active combat in the Angolan War when he was 19 years old.

      He moved to Vancouver in 1999.

      A few years ago, MEC decided to start selling bicycles, which irritated many smaller bicycle shops in Vancouver.

      Coincidentally, one of the leading local voices calling upon MEC to boycott Vista Outdoor products was Richard Campbell, executive director of the B.C. Cycling Coalition.