Buried in Tuesday's quarterly financial report, Vista Outdoor quietly announced that it plans to get out of the business of making guns.
The huge conglomerate is best known in the outdoor world for popular brands like CamelBak, Bushnell, and Camp Chef, but it also owns a number of shooting-related companies, like Savage and Stevens, which it plans to sell.
The move comes after enormous pressure was placed on the company by consumer boycotts of gun manufacturers following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. One petition, which gathered over 24,000 signatures, called for REI to drop all Vista products. Soon after that, both REI and its Canadian counterpart, MEC, announced that they would halt orders of all Vista Outdoor brands.
Vista billed the move as a “strategic business transformation plan,” and stated in a press release: “Our review identified product categories that are core to the company's long-term business strategy. We believe future investment should focus on categories where Vista Outdoor can achieve sustainable growth, maximize operational efficiencies, deliver leadership economics, and drive shareholder value.” Vista also announced that it will sell bike brands Bell, Giro, and Blackburn.
In its quarterly report, Vista noted a 9 percent drop in annual sales, and cited, “lower firearms sales as a result of decreased demand impacting the shooting sports industry.”
Yet it seems there's more at play here than simply the “Trump Slump,” which is affecting the firearms industry as a whole. Vista’s largest profits come from its multiple ammunition brands—Federal, Speer, and American Eagle—which are some of the largest in the country and which the company remains invested in. Selling off its gun brands could be seen as turncoat compromise by Second Amendment absolutists (see what happened to Yeti last week). Boycotts of those brands by that crowd could follow.
At best, we may have just seen the firearms business begin to develop a moral compass. At worst, the spending power of outdoor enthusiasts just won a small victory in the fight against gun violence.