A Mountain Equipment Co-op store in Montreal. The high-end chain says its members want it to stop selling Vista products because of an association with a gunmaker. PHOTO: Google streetview

Canadian outdoor store bows to pressure against guns


The tragic school shooting in Florida in which 17 people were killed continues to have repercussions in the U.S., but now also in Canada.  A well-known high-end outdoor equipment store in this country announced this morning it will end its relationship with a large holding company associated with guns.

The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) chain says it will no longer carry Vista Outdoor products,.

MEC- is a high-end outdoors chain. It will now drop sales of a wide-variety of outdoor products from the Vista company due to Vista’s ownership of a gun maker. PHOTO- Jonathan Hayward- CP

Vista Outdoor Products is the parent owner of a wide variety of companies like Bollé, Bushnell, CamelBak, Camp Chef, and Jimmy Styks. outdoors products These companies make things like sunglasses, binoculars and opticals, water bottles and hydration packs, camp stoves and barbeques, and paddleboards.

Vista also owns the Savage Arms company.   Savage Arms in turn makes several types of rifle including modern semi-automatic sporting rifles  invariably mislabelled as an “assault rifle”.

Three models of the Armalite Rifle (AR-15) Based on a military assault rifle, civilian semi-auto versions are called modern sporting rifles, and are popular as they are reliable and lighter than more traditional guns with wood stocks. No actual assault rifles (ie with automatic fire) can be sold or privately  owned in Canada except under very special and increasingly rare conditions. PHOTO- Rich Pedroncelli- AP

In a statement on the MEC website,  CEO David Lavistour said in part

“Thousands of MEC members have contacted us to express their concerns and to ask that we stop selling products made by these brands. We’ve also heard from members who believe that purchasing decisions like these should be left to individual consumers and that MEC should not get involved. The fact is, the debate has involved us and as a member-based organization we are compelled to respond”.

Canada’s various firearms hobby groups have expressed surprise and disappointment with the corporate decision

Tracey Wilson, spokeswoman for the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights  (CCFR) said in statements sent to RCI this morning.

“Everyone feels like they want to “do something” when a tragedy occurs, but until we are ready to have the difficult conversations about what is causing the tragedy to begin with, this kind of action is futile and insulting to tens of millions of outdoor adventure enthusiasts, hunters and sport shooters who have literally done nothing wrong.

Millions of Canadians hunt and sport shoot safely every day, multi millions more enjoy the use of products like Bushnell, Bolle and Camelbak while simply partaking in outdoor adventure activities.    Having large retailers succumb to social media pressure, however misguided it is, should be concerning to everyone.

   Judging an entire community of outdoor enthusiasts, hunters and sport shooters for the actions of a madman is pure politicization, pure virtue signalling, and a knee-jerk reaction to an extremely emotionally charged issue”.

Many modern shotguns use the same semi-auto technology as the Armalite style rifles, a technology which has been in use in sporting rifles since the 1940’s. PHOTO: via Northern Ontario Travel

Tony Bernando, executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA)  also responded to the MEC decision saying,

“In our free society, MEC has the right to conduct their business operations in any way they choose.  Additionally, our members have the right to take their business to any retailer they choose.  We are confident that Canadians will continue to buy such ubiquitous Vista brands such as Bushnell at the many other retailers that will continue to sell their products.  MEC has sent out their virtue-signal and it is a rejection of the 2.2 million honest and trustworthy Canadians that lawfully own firearms”.

It should be noted that although the U.S is now talking about measures such as background checks of gun purchases, extensive and detailed background checks of potential buyers by Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been the norm in Canada for years.

Also purchasers of guns in Canada must follow a mandatory course to obtain a firearms licence and thus are themselves “registered”.

Depending on the model, some modern semi-automatics in the AR style are restricted (a secondary licencing requirement) and some are not.

Actual assault rifles, ie with automatic function) have been banned in Canada for decades. Magazine capacity in semi-auto rifles must also be “pinned” (i.e physically limited) to 5 bullets capacity only.

U.S politicians are expected to announce new firearms policies in coming days. Major U.S retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and Dicks Sporting Goods have raised the minimum age for gun and ammunition purchases to 21. Walmart stopped selling AR style guns in 2015, Dick’s said it will also now stop selling AR style guns. Kroger also owns the Fred Meyer chain and stopped selling AR style guns at the stores located in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington several years ago.

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6 comments on “Canadian outdoor store bows to pressure against guns
  1. Jesse (Canadian Firearms Owner) says:

    What most Canadians (and Americans) don’t understand about the system in the USA is that they all must get a mandatory NICS check before purchasing ANY firearm. However there is no standard in place for states to report into this system (an issue that should be fixed), and therefore you end up with people buying firearms that shouldn’t EVER be in possession of them!

  2. Warren (A Legal, Canadian AR-15 owner) says:

    Bye Bye MEC.

    No more business of ANY kind with you.

    To celebrate your utter stupidity, I’m taking my legal AR-15 owning self to Cabelas and buying a whole bunch of .223 rem ammo for my AR-15.

    I’ll be using your card as target practice at the range this weekend.

    Thanks for providing me with an opportunity to aim small, miss small at 100yards this weekend.

  3. Joe what says:

    They don’t sell guns? This is removing companies that do?

    How many people die per year rock climbing…how many thousands are injured a year?

    How many mountaineering parties have gone missing or died?

    Pressure to remove those sales or distribution?

    15 Teens die a day texting and driving….

    No more cell phone sales???

  4. Kyle Berry says:

    A well balanced report. It would appear that MEC and its members have taken a bold step in their efforts to solve a problem that does not exist in this country.

  5. Sam Renaud says:

    Totally misguided knee-jerk reaction. “Safety is not found in nature, life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”. Helen Keller.