MEC announced Thursday the company will no longer place orders from brands owned by Vista Outdoor, a company that also develops and manufactures firearms similar to the weapon used to kill 17 students and staff at a high school in Parkland, Fla.
“Two weeks ago, 17 people lost their lives in a senseless and tragic school shooting in the U.S. The issue of gun violence and questions surrounding responsible gun use, ownership and manufacturing have made headlines around the world,” MEC CEO David Labistour said in a statement. “While these issues are seemingly unrelated to MEC, 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.”
READ MORE: U.S. retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods will no longer sell assault-style rifles, high-capacity magazines
An online petition calling for the Vancouver-based outdoor retailer to stop selling Vista Outdoor Inc.-owned brands has garnered more than 20,000 signatures because the company also develops and manufactures firearms similar to the type of rifle used in a recent school shooting.
“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,” Labistour said. “The fact is, the debate has involved us and as a member-based organization we are compelled to respond.”
WATCH: MEC cuts ties with U.S. company
Labistour said the company will stop ordering Bollé, Bushnell, CamelBak, Camp Chef and Jimmy Styks products “effective immediately.”
“Existing inventory will remain on our shelves until it has sold through,” the CEO said.
Labistour noted the company’s decision to stop selling the brands will not “satisfy everyone.”
“On a very personal note, 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,” the CEO said. “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. 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.”
MEC’s decision comes a day after a major U.S. retailer, Dick’s Sporting Goods, said it would immediately stop selling assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines.
“When we saw what the kids were going through and the grief of the parents and the kids who were killed in Parkland, we felt we needed to do something,” Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack said Wednesday.
Gunman Nickolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 assault rifle on Valentine’s Day.
–with a file from The Canadian Press