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Local bike shops come to terms with their industry’s ties to the NRA

Posted by on February 23rd, 2018 at 12:01 pm

(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

“We will no longer purchase products from companies owned by Vista Outdoors. We will be donating proceeds from the remaining inventory we have of Giro helmets to Everytown for Gun Safety.”
— Leah Benson, Gladys Bikes

Revelations this week that several major bicycle brands are owned by Vista Outdoor — one of America’s largest sellers of assault weapon ammunition and accessories, and a staunch supporter of the National Rifle Association (NRA) — has sent shockwaves through the Portland bike scene.

We’ve heard from several readers who now plan to boycott products from Bell Sports, Giro, Blackburn Design, CamelBak, Raskullz, and Copilot. But for bike shop owners who sell helmets, racks, packs and child seats, the issue is much more complicated. Some say they’ll boycott the brands until ties to the NRA are severed, others say they’ll steer clear of them in the future, and one was in such a moral quandary, they asked to remain anonymous.

Immediately after our story posted we heard from several Portland shops who said they’ll boycott all Vista Outdoor brands.

Clever Cycles, who doesn’t currently sell any Vista Outdoor products, wrote on Twitter that it’s, “Terrible to hear that a company pedaling child seats and safety equipment is also supporting an industry of terror,” and, “We are proud to not carry any products that @VistaOutdoorInc distributes.” Go By Bike owner Kiel Johnson shared that, “We won’t sell those brands either!” Mel Birgé who owns Recumbent PDX says, “I would never knowingly sell products from a weapons manufacturer. We didn’t sell Bell, Giro or Blackburn and now we won’t start.”

Leah Benson owns Gladys Bikes.

Upon hearing the news of Vista Outdoor’s ties to the NRA, Gladys Bikes owner Leah Benson wrote on her shop’s Facebook page that, “This is frustrating and disappointing on a whole multitude of levels. Of Vista’s many brands, we currently only stock Giro helmets, and we had just placed a fairly sizable (for us) order with them. I’m not going to lie: This puts us in a tricky place financially. That said, there are a lot of things that are more important than money (for instance: human life); we’re committed to finding a way to not support them moving forward.”

Benson shared more with us in an email this morning:

“We will no longer purchase products from companies owned by Vista Outdoors. Additionally, we will be donating proceeds from the remaining inventory we have of Giro helmets to Everytown for Gun Safety… I know that some folks will disagree with my opinions or tactics here, and I respect that, and won’t deny that this is a relatively easy decision for me to make since Gladys is small and our pre-season investment in these brands was not nearly as large as other shops in the area. I respect that every shop has good reason for the choices they’re making with regards to Vista; we all have different ways of existing in business and in the world.”

All three of those shops are relatively small. And Clever Cycles doesn’t even carry the brands, so they don’t have much to lose by coming out strong against Vista Outdoor.

Cyclepath owner Bill Larson also doesn’t carry Vista Outdoor products, saying they just discontinued selling Giro and Bell last year, “Due to a dislike for Vista’s typical business practices.” (That’s a sentiment we heard several times over the past few days. Shop owners told us Vista Outdoor’s corporate culture, failure to protect the retail prices of their products, and selling to online discounters made them hard to work with.) Larson added that he didn’t know about Vista Outdoor’s NRA ties before this week. “I can honestly say that if I had learned about this topic while still carrying their brands, it would’ve shaped our buying decisions,” he shared with us via email. “There are many brands to choose from in the market now so theres no reason to stick with a brand if they don’t offer a compelling reason to be on our shelf. We truly believe in voting with our dollar.”

What about shops that do a significant amount of business with Vista Outdoor? Their responses revealed just how difficult it can be to extricate business dealings from moral stances in these days of corporate dominance in the bike industry.

Metropolis Cycles has been doing business on North Williams Avenue for nine years. Co-owner Nathan Roll said they currently sell products from Giro, Blackburn and Bell and have done so for several years, before the brands were acquired by Vista Outdoor.

Here’s his statement:

“We are deeply dismayed by this news, and are trying to determine how to proceed. We were previously unaware of Vista’s connection to and support of the NRA. I personally find the NRA’s rhetoric and actions reprehensible and disgusting, and would happily cut ties with anyone that supported them, but as the owner of a business, it’s not that easy, for several reasons.

The simplest is that we have thousands of dollars of their merchandise already in stock, and have committed to buying thousands more through the course of the coming year. In addition, we have a relationship with the brand(s) and their employees, none of whom had a say in who purchased their employer. Some of them are our friends and neighbors, and this clearly affects their livelihoods. We are currently re-evaluating our relationship with Vista Sports, but as I’m sure you are aware, the bicycle business is hardly lucrative, especially for small neighborhood shops like us, and we can’t afford to give away product, or even discount it deeply in an effort to unload it. The Giro/Bell duo is also by far the largest player in the domestic helmet market, and though there are alternatives, we will have to consider them carefully before making any decisions.”

Advertisement

Erik Tonkin outside his shop in Sellwood.

Sellwood Cycle Repair celebrated its 25th year in business in 2017. It’s a local institution and its influence goes well beyond Portland. Owner Erik Tonkin has helped design and influence several Kona Bicycle Company models over the years and he’s a force in the racing scene, having supported an all-women cyclocross racing team through international competition this past season.

Tonkin told me this morning he carries a large amount of products from Vista’s brands. Even so, he’ll support a boycott. Here’s his statement:

“Sellwood Cycle Repair will support a boycott of Vista Outdoor. This means we will not buy products from Bell, Giro, Blackburn, and CoPilot — and that we could even return existing inventory, which is substantial. I was sad to learn a few years back these companies had been acquired by Vista. At the time, I was most disappointed because — for the first time ever — we’d be doing regular business with a vague holding company rather than a focused or independent bike businesses, like Kona Bicycles, Giant Bicycles, Quality Bicycle Products, Cyclone Bicycle Supply, and the list goes on.

And then there was Vista’s substantial investment in shooting sports, not to mention its support of the National Rifle Association.

I need a specific, stated purpose to support a boycott — a goal or an outcome to pursue. For me, that goal is to ask Vista to drop its support of the NRA — or failing that, to sell off its brands Giro, Bell, Blackburn, and CoPilot.”

And then there was the bike shop owner who didn’t want to be identified:

“Well, this is an ethical dilemma I wasn’t expecting to confront this morning. My initial reaction is ‘fuck those guys’. We vote with our wallets. The idea of me giving money to a company that then gives it to the NRA is revolting. 

So I’ve been talking about this to the management and staff. The issues that are raised are matters of consistency. Are we going to hold all of our suppliers to a standard, and if so, what is the line? I’m afraid that if we dig deep enough into any of our suppliers, we’re going to find stuff that is undesirable. And in order to not be hypocritical, we would have to do so. 

I don’t know what to do at this point. Does the good (supplying well designed and produced bike stuff that help keep cyclists safe and comfortable) outweigh the bad?

I’m in a bind. I could take a stand and say we’re not buying products from those companies. It might make a bit of a difference at some point, and now that this is public, I’m sure more will consider if they will support the companies. We sure will. 

One thing I have to consider is that Bell-Giro is our #1 most profitable brand, percentage wise. If we drop them, our sales will drop and profits will drop. It is likely that we would have to lay someone off or otherwise cut payroll. How would that person feel about my decision?

It is already difficult to be a small business in this day. I don’t have the luxury to make a lot of decisions by how my heart feels. Sadly…but I do what I can do.” 

Given the #NRABoycott effort that’s sweeping the country, there are probably more shoes to drop in terms of what happens at Vista Outdoor. They purchased these bike brands very recently in an effort to diversify their holdings because the gun market is so vulnerable to political winds. If they don’t want to cut ties to the NRA, they might end up selling these non-gun brands. As the gun debate heats up, companies might have to choose: They can sell guns or bikes, but not both.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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maxD
Guest
maxD

What a predicament! I really feel for these small business owners. I would love to see Vista sell off their bike-related holdings. I will personally avoid these brands, but I will also continue to support the LBS that I have relationships with despite the choice they make. Great article.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Just dropping in to say that I don’t envy the local bikes shops having to wrestle with these decisions, but I’m super impressed they are giving it the deep and thoughtful consideration we read here. Thanks for being such thoughtful members of our community!

Eric
Guest
Eric

Good news for local Nutcase helmets in the long run I bet.

Other Eric
Guest
Other Eric

Nutcase Helmets and Smith Optics both have their HQs here in Portland and neither has an organizational affiliation with any firearms product manufacturers.
win/win

BIKELEPTIC
Subscriber

Smith Optics is owned by Safilo Group out of Italy.

BIKELEPTIC
Subscriber

Nutcase is owned by Transom Capital Group, a holding company out of LA. I don’t know their donations or funding. They own quite a variety of companies.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

http://transomcap.com/our-portfolio/

I didn’t know Nutcase was no longer locally owned.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out…what other bicyclist safety gear is owned / controlled by the automotive industry … since more bicyclists die by driver impact than by bullet impact.

PDXBear
Guest
PDXBear

Bravo! How about we just start with guns and the NRA? Draw the line there. Worry about the other issues later. How about the big shops? Where does the Bike Gallery, River City, and Western Bikeworks stand on this issue?

Brian
Guest
Brian

Universal?

Paul Atkinson
Guest
Paul Atkinson

Hoping to hear from REI as well.

PDXBear
Guest
PDXBear

REI is a co-op, so you can let the Board of Directors know directly.
Email them: board@rei.com

Brian
Guest
Brian

I am proud to live in a city where this is happening. We have some other rather large bicycle retailers in Portland and I wonder what their stance is at this point.

John
Guest
John

The way a lot of people feel about the NRA is the way I feel about Bloomburg’s groups (including Everytown for Gun Safety) and they way they buy our politicians. I wouldn’t buy a helmet on clearance knowing the money was going to Bloomburg. Bloomburg’s groups already outspend the NRA 6 to 1 buying politicians here in oregon (http://katu.com/news/investigators/pro-gun-control-groups-donate-6-times-more-cash-to-or-candidates-than-gun-rights-groups) On the other hand Vista Ourdoors ammo brands are good quality products and I don’t see the sales of those dropping. If the LBS doesn’t want to carry the bike brands I buy there are always online stores. IMO, the NRA has nothing to do with the recent shooting and they provide good education courses on gun safety. Unfortunately they’re a little to unmovable about some reasonable gun laws. The real question is why was a person like the shooter, with all the red flags, allowed to buy and own a firearm? Thats up to our politicians and law enforcement, not the NRA. How many here conceal carry when on public transit late at night, or when riding on urban trails where your safety is questionable?

q
Guest
q

“Unfortunately they’re a little to unmovable about some reasonable gun laws” is quite an understatement. And yes, creating and enforcing restrictions is up to politicians and law enforcement, but the NRA consistently opposes restrictions.

meh
Guest
meh

The NRA doesn’t even make the top 50 contributors to politicians. They spend their money on advertising and on building a voting bloc, but they don’t actually give all that much to the politicians.

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/totals.php?id=d000000082&cycle=2014

q
Guest
q

So what? This is an article about bike gear companies whose owners contribute to the NRA. The fact that there are other organizations who donate more to politicians is irrelevant. So are the specifics of how the NRA spends its own money.

meh
Guest
meh

Because everyone says the NRA buys the politicians and the numbers prove they don’t. The unions own politicians more than the NRA. The NRA owns voters who agree with their position. They control a voting block, not the politicians, so they get who they want elected.

If you don’t understand how the NRA works then you cannot combat them.

q
Guest
q

Again, so what? This article is about an issue involving the NRA. HOW the NRA spends its money or HOW it influences gun laws, and how other groups spend more or exert influence on other issues (or even this one) is interesting but not relevant.

meh
Guest
meh

You do understand that the NRA are kings of letter writing campaigns and threats of boycotts. That’s the power they wield, through the millions that support them. That they spend their money sending out mailers to their followers to get them to participate in these actions is exactly the issue. That they don’t have to buy the politicians or the companies because the have a faithful following that can and does mean millions in sales to these companies. This has everything to do with how the NRA operates and how they impact and influence companies whose stance they agree with or disagree with. An NRA backlash is or was something that companies and politicians feared.

q
Guest
q

Again, you keep talking about HOW the NRA spends its money, but that’s not relevant. I’ve never said a word about them “buying politicians” so I don’t understand why you keep arguing about that. I assume the NRA spends its money in whatever way it feels is most effective in accomplishing its goals.

Similarly, per the article, people participating in the boycott are doing so because the gear companies are owned by a company that supports the NRA, and the boycotters opposes the NRA for its positions and actions it takes on issues such as gun control. HOW the NRA is working to oppose gun control isn’t what matters, it’s that the NRA is opposing gun control, period.

Austin
Guest
Austin

You mention this:
“The way a lot of people feel about the NRA is the way …. they buy our politicians.”
and then this:
“The real question is why was a person like the shooter, with all the red flags, allowed to buy and own a firearm? Thats up to our politicians and law enforcement, not the NRA.”

So, you say it is up to the politicians, not the NRA, but you also mention that you know the NRA buys the politicians, so in the end it kind of is up to the NRA, right?

PDXBear
Guest
PDXBear

In 2016, the NRA spent almost $60 million on political activities. Everytown For Gun Safety spent $1.8 million. Just sayin’.

Stephen Maus
Guest

Very reasonable response! Gets past all the hysteria on both sides of the debate. There is a middle ground.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The local spending is essentially irrelevant in this debate. National policy drives gun ownership behavior, so that is where the spending matters. Porous state borders mean that state policy is ineffective without national action at the same time.

I understand that you enjoy firearms, but you need to take ownership of the carnage that our freedoms enable. Children are dying on our streets because guns are so readily available in this country. They are dying at rates higher than any other developed country, and by a huge margin.

I have training and knowledge of firearms, but I choose not to own any because I feel it is immoral to contribute to the gun-availability problem. I also care about the safety of my family (statistics are clear that a gun in the household is much more likely to be used to kill someone in that household, via suicide, domestic violence, etc than to be used against an intruder). Go ahead and take that gamble with your family. I won’t gamble with my loved one’s lives.

Sol
Guest
Sol

It’s Bloomberg..

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Where can we find listings of NRA backed companies if we do choose to live by our conscience going forward? I imagine changes will happen, corporation are adept at name-changing, rebranding, and splitting off. It would be good to know what causes one’s commerce is encouraging. Ingrained cultures take time to change.

cgull
Guest
cgull

Thanks for the heads up. I’ll be sure to make my next helmet purchase be a Giro and my next rack be a Blackburn Designs. Businesses participating in politics in this way is a little silly. It’s best to stay out of it. You’ll just end up needlessly alienating a demographic either way. If my bike shop stops carrying brands I like because they have distant financial ties to the NRA they might gain a customer, but they’ll certainly lose me – am existing customer.

q
Guest
q

If you’re buying gear specifically because it’s made by companies with ties to the NRA, as you said you will be, the shops you’re no longer shopping at may not miss your business.

Kittens
Guest
Kittens

I won’t shop at places like that either, just because I am getting so sick of everything that has to do with politics. If an LBS can survive without my business, that is great. That is why they have competition, and there are many other LBSs to shop at.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

This is a little different than saying “I won’t go to his store because he is a Republican”. The NRA is pretty extreme in their views, and their actions are exactly why it is so easy for people who really should have them to get their hands on guns. Our country badly needs reasonable gun regulation (not a ban, not confiscation, just a better set of rules), and the NRA is one of the primary obstacles to that happening. I too am sick of politics, but this isn’t that.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Wow, I could not disagree with this no-politics in business more. As citizens we have seen our electoral democracy degraded to the point where a recent Princeton study shows no relation between the will of the people and the laws passed by congress. So at this point in time our actions as consumers is the only place we can realistically affect the world we live in ( besides local activism for local changes). The no-politics in business is an approach advocated by those who want to do bad and get rich at the same time.

Ian
Guest
Ian

So you’re going to make specific politically-motivated purchases in order to show bike shops they’re wrong for making decisions based on politics? Seems like a sound strategy.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I respect the decisions of local bike shops to not purchase the Vista gear, and I also respect those that unwittingly purchased an inventory and must sell it before they can wash their hands of Vista, I certainly don’t want any more LBS to go out of business. And I believe that any bike shop that wants to carry these brands on purpose should be clear about why they are doing it, so we the customer can make our choice. I will lose respect for any store that attempts to ride the fence and pretend they can have their cake and eat it too.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Just to be objective, only a very small fraction of all deaths inflicted by firearms in our country involve “assault” weapons. But the most horrific ones do. Past bans of these guns have had very little effect, precisely because there is so little to affect, other than natural human emotional response.

On the other hand, my first job out of college was helping test submarine-launched nuclear ballistic missiles, which never have killed anyone. Then the job switched to figuring out how to kill more people in Vietnam with “conventional” weapons. At that point I resigned.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Maybe it was because those bans did not go far enough?

Bay Area rider
Guest
Bay Area rider

So how well did the 18th amendment work? Or maybe the war on drugs? The history of banning things hasn’t really worked out well when people really want the things being banned. Working on solving the question of why people think killing others seems like a more effective way of reducing murders.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Maybe a multi-pronged approach would yield the most results?

Brian
Guest
Brian

Agreed. It is complex with many variables that must be addressed. Until then, I’d like less guns like AR-15s (and those more dangerous) readily available.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This is a good point. This is why any guns that are not used for sport should be banned. Bolt action rifles and standard shotguns only.

Kristina
Guest
Kristina

As a preface I will say that I think arguing on the internet is not very productive and I am not trying to be argumentative BUT there are a multitude of shooting sports that utilize semi-auto “assault style” rifles. Some of the people who participate in these competitions choose/build their rifles specifically for accuracy and shooting speed to compete on a global scale and their firearms are virtually indistinguishable from those used by others to commit crimes. The line between rifles for sport and rifles for killing is defined by the end user not the manufacturing.

rainbike
Guest
rainbike

What about lever action and pump action rifles? Why do you want to ban them?

Matthew in Portsmouth
Guest
Matthew in Portsmouth

I have a few Bell products, mostly bought from Fred Meyer (gloves and cheap fenders), but will not buy these brands in the future (by and large the products I have are not great). My suspicion is that Vista sells most of its product through large chains and online, so unless they get on board, the boycott may not be effective. I can see Target signing up for a boycott given they don’t sell firearms or permit them to be carried into their stores, but Walmart, Dicks etc. are a different story.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

You could trace half of a Target store back to the gun and gun accessory industry. It’s foolish to think that a big box store would ever open up the door to such arbitrary morality.

What am I thinking. Of course you’re aware of this. I’m sure you have fully researched every product you’re buying and not just jumping on a single company boycott because the internet tells you to.

Redhippie
Guest
Redhippie

Too bad. Boycotts cut both ways. I live near metropolis and have consigned a number of bikes at sellwood.. As a gun owner, nra member and 2a supporter I’m not welcome in their businesses and will take my households buisness elsewhere. Are you going to gain 4 more clients over this?

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

I’m with you. I am not a gun owner or activist, but this virtue signalling is tiresome.

q
Guest
q

I’m not sure who or what you’re aiming your “virtue signalling” comment at–the boycott? the article? the commenters that support the boycott?

In any case, it seems dismissive to…well, dismiss others’ motivations.

Al
Guest
Al

This isn’t about “gun lovers” vs “gun haters”. Reducing complex arguments to this is precisely why this situation has become intractable, to the benefit of the NRA incidentally. The NRA doesn’t even represent gun owners. They represent gun MANUFACTURERS. It’s an industry trade group.

As a gun owner, I resent the NRA speaking for me. The NRA has proclaimed itself a representative of owners even when they are at odds with most gun owners. They do this to leverage their lobbying power. Even if we accept the NRA’s own membership count of 4 million, then that still only represents less than 6% of GUN OWNERS in America!

I, and most gun owners I know, support solutions to this entirely preventable problem such as universal background checks, assault weapons ban, limited magazine capacities, etc. Let’s stop pretending like we don’t know what the solutions are and that all gun owners are in agreement with the NRA.

As far as this boycott is concerned, I support it. I have a bunch of gear on the list but my hunch is that it was purchased prior to the Vista acquisition. Still, I have to admit that I was unaware of the connection until this current news cycle.

Axess Denyd
Guest
Axess Denyd

The industry trade group is the NSSF. The NRA is the member-driven organization.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Bell, Giro, Blackburn are all good brands. I will continue to purchase these brands so if the local shops quit selling them, they will lose my business and likely many more bike riders.

Ivan Boothe
Guest
Ivan Boothe

A Better Cycle on SE Division says “never have and never will carry these products” in this Facebook post (which also links to your earlier article):

https://www.facebook.com/ABetterCycle/posts/10155275229802023

That’s my local shop so I thought I’d check.

Brent
Guest
Brent

Sellwood Cycle is my favorite bike shop. They are great. I stopped in the other day after reading about the Giro and Bell connection to the NRA and asked them if they planned to stop selling those products. They told me they weren’t sure yet, but were talking about it. So glad to hear they decided to stop selling those products!

BarnOwl
Guest
BarnOwl

Redhippie
Thanks for the feedback, As a person who “isn’t interested in guns at all” I would recommend that you learn more about the subject. What you and many of the pundits call a “military assault weapon” has the same definition as the trusty .22 that may people buy their kids. This isn’t about a small niche of firearms, but rather an attempt to criminalize a wide swath of gun ownership. Finally, fully automatic “military” firearms are actually illegal unless you get a NFA tax stamp and spends upwards of $5,000 to $10,000. This is very rare.In regards to “enough being enough”, I don’t hear you advocating that the laws that we already have on the books are actually enforced, or we limit access to violent video games and movies, limit the wholesale prescription of anti-depressants, install security guards and metal detectors at schools. If you really want to address the issue of mass shootings/stabbings/truck violence, you need to address all the issues and not just firearms.I didn’t really want to debate the issue because I figure that most have already made up their minds. I would just be aware that actions like this boycott directly affect the 39.1% of Oregonians that didn’t vote for Hillary.Recommended 2

what do antidepressant sales have to do with prevention of mass shootings exactly?

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

A lot, actually. A large proportion of mass shooters have had antidepressant prescriptions. This is not to say that I agree with red hippie generally.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

last time I checked, a large proportion of average Americans have antidepressant prescriptions. Unless you can show me a study showing causality with that relationship, this just sounds like more obfuscation.

“The federal government’s health statisticians figure that about one in every 10 Americans takes an antidepressant. And by their reckoning, antidepressants were the third most common prescription medication taken by Americans in 2005–2008, the latest period during which the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected data on prescription drug use.”

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/astounding-increase-in-antidepressant-use-by-americans-201110203624

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Not surprising that 10% of Americans are on antidepressant drugs.

Unfortunately, the proportion of mass shooters who’ve been on these drugs isn’t 10%. It’s 50%.

http://www.anh-usa.org/new-evidence-that-antidepressants-are-causing-an-epidemic-of-violence/

Not trying to obfuscate or diminish efforts to reduce access to the weapons that tend to be used in these mass shootings. A lot of so-called “gun rights” sites love to trumpet the above findings. But a lot the deniers are people who have ties to the pharmaceutical industry, one of the handful that I consider on the same order of magnitude as the gun industry in terms of the harm they cause to humanity and the damage they do to democracy by throwing money at elected officials. Neither side can be trusted, but I find the claims believable. Even a story in Psychology Today – a publication that tends to take the industry position when it comes to psychoactive drugs – acknowledges that there is a link that requires more study.

It’s a multifacted problem: we don’t do enough to support people with mental illnesses. We don’t do enough to track guns that are used in multiple incidents. We don’t do enough to limit access to guns by people with mental illness. We don’t do enough to limit access to the weapons most readily and commonly used in mass shootings. We don’t close the loopholes that allow people access to firearms who shouldn’t have them.

And we don’t recognize (or sufficiently study) the contribution of pharmaceuticals to this problem.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

Lot of the same people who claim you have to be an expert on guns to have an opinion won’t listen to the experts on climate change, yet they tons of opinions on climate change…

Shawn
Guest
Shawn

What about the coward officer who refused to go in and stop the shooter recently? What about the three other deputies that also didn’t go in? What about the FBI who failed to follow up on threats on social media? What about the DHS who knew about this childs propensity for cutting himself? What about the foster parents who knew he amassed a large collection of guns? What about the fact that the police had been contacted over 39 times for altercations with that young man? What about the fact that he shot others people animals and did nothing?

THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED.

Boycotting a brand because they support the NRA doesn’t do a damn thing to address or answer any of these questions I have asked. It’s a politically motivated publicity stunt designed to make ppl feel good about something and takes advantage of gullible people.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

A coward who didn’t have equal firepower because hey, school cops don’t carry AR-15s. At least not yet.

q
Guest
q

Yes, all those need to be addressed. Any one of those many things handled better could have stopped this shooting.

On the other hand, despite all those dozens of opportunities to prevent this–including the presence of an armed professional at the school–it still happened. Gun regulations are one more tool that can come into play when other safeguards fail.

It’s not a weird concept. With streets, you could say there’s no real reason infrastructure should be designed to provide safeguards against drunk drivers, brake failures, dirty windshields, or any of dozens of other reasons people get hurt, because all of those can be prevented very easily before anyone turns on an engine. But we know we’ll never achieve perfection in those areas, so we provide guardrails and all kinds of other expensive road design components to kick in when all the previous steps fail.

Same with buildings. There should almost NEVER be a reason for a fire sprinkler system to kick in, because fires are started due to other factors that can always be easily prevented–maintaining the electrical system, not smoking in bed, etc. Yet we add the (very expensive) fire sprinklers because we know the other safeguards will occasionally fail. In fact, we have not just the sprinklers, but all kinds of other safeguards that are equally redundant and expensive–multiple exits, monitored alarms, fire-resistive construction…

So yes, you can see all the failures leading up to the shooting as failures that never should have happened, and you’d be right. But they’re also proof that failures happen, which is where controlling access to guns (not banning all guns at all) comes in.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

So, if we arm teachers (the only logical solution, right?) and a 30 year-old female math teacher chooses not to come charging out of her 6th grade class to confront a trained shooter with an assault rifle, are you going to call her a coward as well?

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

I’m stoked to see Sellwood Cycles lead the charge!

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Adore Erik and Sellwood Cycle. Way to go!

Adam
Guest
Adam

This is all really unfortunate. Giro is an important brand for many dealers. Margins are some of the strongest and best defended in the industry. Meanwhile, Vista does far more business with shooting brands, so they would not part ways with NRA if the Bell/Giro boycott were 100%. Doesn’t really seem worth dragging a potential wedge issue into the shop, IMO. You have to respect Sellwood Cycles doing what they feel is right, however.

A concerned shop owner might consider the likely efficacy of this boycott vs allocating a portion of profits to midterm campaigns.

dawn
Guest
dawn

Wondering why this conversation only seems focused on Vista Outdoor’s connection to the NRA, since this article says that Vista Outdoors is a leading manufacturer of weapons and ammunition as well. Looking at Vista Outdoors’ website appears to back up this article – many of the brands they own manufacture guns and gun accessories. https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/02/21/when-you-buy-these-bike-brands-youre-supporting-the-gun-lobby/

Kristina
Guest
Kristina

This is such bandwagon nonsense. Cell phones, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, air fare… you name it. If you have ever spent money on these things, or plan to in the future, you are more than likely supporting death and dismay. Why are guns so bad but conflict minerals get a pass? Boeing probably made the last plane you flew in but you’re cool with their military contracts? Are those issues not cool enough to rally behind?

Boycott Vista Outdoor to what end? And what if your local shop still carries their stuff? Boycott them too? Again, to what end? What is it really going to accomplish. It might put a small local shop out of business… Is that a “win” in your book? It isn’t in mine.

But maybe I’m just another “gun nut” so my thoughts are easily dismissed by anti-gun folks. News flash though: there are a lot more cyclists that are also gun owners than one might think (and I bet most of us will still spend our money at our favorite shops without worrying about their political views).

Rob Chapman
Guest
Rob Chapman

Was the Cruz kid an NRA member? Smoke and mirrors.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Yelling at the the wind. There are real issues…bike shops. This isn’t one of them.

Rob Chapman
Guest
Rob Chapman

I don’t know enough about women’s reproductive issues, it doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion about them.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

These comments demonstrate why it is not a good idea to conflate separate issues.

bikerider1
Guest
bikerider1

Why make it the issue for the bike shops, (many who are struggling to stay a float)…Maybe we the customers should vote w/ our dollars. Just don’t buy the products that Vista owns, then the shops would be more likely to stop carrying said products. Seems unfair to ask our local shops to make tough profitable decisions w/ how hard the retail world is already. The onus is on us the consumer. Support your shop, and buy the products you believe in. In time the shops will stop carrying the products that don’t sell. win-win.

John Nurse-Mayes
Guest
John Nurse-Mayes

I was just shopping for a new helmet and shoes … I will be now looking at some different brands being Giro was where my money was going again after years of wearing their products.

I am glad to be able to support our local bike shops who have the same beliefs as my family and I. Power to the people and our pocket books. There is more power there than our vote I am feeling lately.

Keep the rubber side down by cycling possi

John Nurse-Mayes
Tile and Design By-Cycle LLC
503.906.0807

Hazel Gross
Guest
Hazel Gross

Seems like Rapha somehow got missed in all this. They got bought by the owners of Walmart last year. Walmart sells guns and sponsors NRA events.

Josh
Guest
Josh

I agree with Kristina’s “bandwagon nonsense”- This is a publicity stunt to get some attention of the liberal Portland bike crowd and it’s a load of crap. If people really were upset about the lives that may be damaged by the products they buy, then they should stop buying anything made in China, Indonesia, Taiwan, etc, etc. The child labor that is used to make those awesome jerseys, or those great tires, are FAR more damaging than a company that makes guns. Every innocent life that is lost is a tragedy, but life has always been so. It almost impossible to buy anything that has been made by people who weren’t oppressed, and by companies that are egalitarian. So take your sanctimonious “I won’t buy your product, so there” to the local farmers market, and never shop in a grocery store, department store, or big box store again.

David Branscome
Guest
David Branscome

I am a bicyclist. I’m much more concerned about having my bicycle stolen or being killed by a motorist who is drunk or texting. People who hit and kill cyclists get away with murder.

Jim
Guest
Jim

Let’s start a boycott on AAA, since they support automobiles, and automobiles kill bicyclists

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Many cyclists already do.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If AAA advocated for polices as extreme as the NRA does, I would support you. Generally, however, they take reasonable positions.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Just a thought…. Last time I checked Bell bike products were fairly inexpensive, and people below the poverty level don’t have a lot to spend on bike stuff. So the poor will have to pay more for other brands (or just stop riding), because a shop chooses to not stock what they can afford?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

The stores that stock Bell bike products (other than helmets) are department stores like Target, Walmart and Fred Meyer. Walmart is definitely not going to take a stand against the NRA.

antianti
Guest
antianti

Bell sports have a wide product range. Yes they do market low end items at the department store level. Did you know that if you are cycle touring around the country, you can get decent folding tires in three different diameters at the average Walmart? Makes it easy to leave spares at home. Not everything on the books for sale at Walmart sucks anymore. Just saying…

Rivelo
Guest

We don’t stock any stuff from Vista Outdoor –although after vowing to wear a helmet more often–I bought a Giro “Sutton” helmet a few months ago from another bike shop.

Yesterday, I read that our alarm company (SimpliSafe) was an NRA contributor. News to me!

By the end of afternoon, they had dropped their association/support.

Old fart my a$$
Guest
Old fart my a$$

I ride my bike to get away from all of the political crap everywhere its to bad the LBS are going to cut their profits over what corp. america is doing. The tragedy last week has got people talking about changes for the better no need to cut your own throat.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

I, personally, would not shop at any bike shop that joined this boycott. Am I a gun owner? No, never have been. Am I horrified at the senseless killing by criminals using guns? Yes. Do I think the NRA is responsible? No way. They are an advocacy organization for a legal product. The reaction of blaming the NRA for these deaths is Political Correctness gone amuck. What’s next, boycotting a food company because incorrect usage of its products causes obesity? I could go on, but you get the point.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The NRA is not at fault (are people saying it is?). But they do support policies that make events like this more possible.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Just like the Tobacco Institute wasn’t responsible for millions of smoking related deaths?

bendite
Guest
bendite

I have no problem saying the NRA shares responsibility. They exerted enough influence over the last 40 or so years to manipulate the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to mean the individual rather than the militia. They bought Congress which then dictated Supreme Court nominations to be “2nd amendment supporters”, i.e. unfettered gun access for the individual. This has led to a proliferation of guns and easy access. Having lots of guns around means greater gun homicide rates and gun death rates.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Well said Steve!!!

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Not analogous. Most people killed by food made the choice to eat what they ate. Most people killed by guns didn’t buy the product.

Richard Sachs
Guest

Jonathan – Thank you for this post. I have been looking for a decent discussion regarding this week’s news story and these brands. Many of the comments here are helpful too. And I trust Eric Tonkin’s discretion regarding the path he’s taking. I am weighing up options here this weekend.

q
Guest
q

When laws proposing restrictions on texting while driving were being considered recently, I’m pleased that nobody argued that those laws were an attack on First Amendment rights.

Softrocker
Guest
Softrocker

Knives are less efficient at killing people… but crazy people still try: https://www.thedailybeast.com/not-just-sandy-hook-chinas-terrifying-knife-attacks

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

If the NRA wasn’t bad enough already they are also against Net Neutrality. They recently gave their ” Charlton Heston Award” to the new head of the FCC who battled the odds to repeal Net Neutrality ( still being fought over in the courts) . So there is more than one reason to support a boycott of any company that openly supports the NRA.

Gene James
Guest
Gene James

I don’t know the answer to this problem. I do know that I’m against people owning assault weapons. I do know that from the 1920’s through the 1970’s it was far easier to buy a weapon. I do know that during this period, school shootings were unheard of.
Maybe society should look in the mirror and realize that the way they’re raising the next generation is completely wrong. Nobody wants to address the issue of how parents are raising children who are not equipped to live in a peaceful society

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Being a parent in today’s violence-ridden American society is difficult enough without the constant parent-shaming we have to deal with on every possible topic. You want kids raised right? Have some of your own and raise them the way you see fit.

T. C. Wahl
Guest
T. C. Wahl

I find it funny that the citizens of Portland forget that the other 3/4’s of the states citizens are hunters and shooting enthusiasts that feed their families and provide deer and elk hides for the Native artisans to work with. Portland’s social justice warrior class needs to remember that they are just a tiny drop in an otherwise heavily outdoors, shooting sports and hunting culture.

Yeah, I know, when you live in a big city and don’t provide for yourself off the land all you have to worry about is who might be selling what to whom and what their affiliation may or not be to the NRA or other 2nd Amendment rights organizations…

Bully for you folks, everyone else in this state however has a life to tend to including riding their bikes regardless of who makes our gear and who owns the company.

bendite
Guest
bendite

3/4’s of the state population hunts? I don’t know about that. The majority of the population lives between PDX and Eugene. While the rural folks might resent the Oregon urban folks, the narrative that those rural people function independently from the west side is worn out and inaccurate. There dependent on the state’s laws and urban consumption as much as anyone else. I think of this every time I see the water diverters on the Deschutes here in town, taking the water out east.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

The NRA should support responsible use of limited-capacity hunting weapons, or smaller arms for self defense. The problem is that the NRA has grown too big for its britches, and also supports gun show loopholes, gun freedoms for the mentally ill, sales of AR-15s and other similar guns designed for efficient human slaughter, and even the ending of net neutrality. Can we be for the 2nd amendment but against the NRA? I know I am.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

And our efforts to stop the NRA’s stranglehold on gun laws poses absolutely no threat to your ability to hunt, or shoot reasonable arms recreationally, or provide for your families off your land.

Also, to dismiss city dwellers as out of touch or having invalid opinions simply for “not knowing enough” about guns is insulting, and not even a compelling argument, although such tactics are commonplace by those opposed to the views of the nation’s urban/suburban majority.

Personally, I come from a family with many gun-owning hunters. Last Thanksgiving we enjoyed venison that was not purchased at a store. I even have family members who sometimes don’t show up for thanksgiving because it’s prime hunting season. Yet none of my family members is or ever has been a member – or even a supporter of the NRA. Universally we condemn their disingenuous tactics and support stronger common sense gun laws. I’ve seen relatives spit out the NRA’s name in disgust at what they do in the name of hunters and other reasonable gun owners.

pruss
Guest
pruss

hate to be “that guy”…but this is a seriously sexist. in a fight/flight situation, what do you think is holding her back? that she’s going to be too busy doing “math stuff”…or that she’s a she?

agree that the idea that arming teachers paints incredibly absurd images…but the intent isn’t to create a mini-military force…its to give the teachers a defensive option..and to potentially dissuade people from attacking the school in the first place.

The real question we should be asking, and i’ll admit the answer could go either way, is whether or not a teacher in a mass school shooting scenario would want access to a defensive option. If your poor frail 30y old female math-lete has trained with guns, my guess is she would answer “yes”.

pengo
Guest
pengo

A few more basic questions we should be asking:

Given the notorious difficulty of prosecuting police in the aftermath of a shooting are we effectively immunizing from consequence a teacher who might ‘feel threatened’ and kill an innocent student or do you think there’s no way this could happen in the first place?

Do we really think that this will be considered a defensive option or will armed teachers be vilified and/or subject to discipline if they choose to shelter in place with students?

Will weapons be kept under lock & key, separate from ammunition or will they be kept loaded in a location relatively more accessible to students?

How many visibly armed people in civilian clothes do we want wandering around the scene of an active shooter situation when the SWAT team shows up?

How would arming teachers be any kind of deterrent to a shooter who expects and wants to die anyhow?

David Ransom
Guest
David Ransom

Will the shops ensure their business has no connection to the ACLU, also? If you are going to take a position, make sure it’s inclusive.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Why would that be relevant?

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Why should they do that, and how would it be “inclusive”?

V.O. Marx
Guest
V.O. Marx

>”One thing I have to consider is that Bell-Giro is our #1 most profitable brand, percentage wise. If we drop them, our sales will drop and profits will drop. It is likely that we would have to lay someone off or otherwise cut payroll. How would that person feel about my decision?”

If I didn’t shill unethical products at a huge markup, I could never afford to pay others less than I make to sell them for me! If I was a good guy I’d have to fire them, you see.

V.O. Marx
Guest
V.O. Marx

Watching performatively woke small business tyrants struggle to preemptively justify their future losses and at-will firings feels as exhausting as it looks

Amy
Guest
Amy

Anyone can recommend another brand beside those manufactured by Vista? I’m not going to change the minds of anyone who already has an opinion on this topic. I personally would like to support other brands. And if a bike shop wants to carry or not carry Vista brands that is up to them. I would still go there I just wouldn’t buy those products.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Lazer helmets–a branch of Shimano/Pearl Izumi.

Axess Denyd
Guest
Axess Denyd

How about this:

I’ll stop supporting any bike shop that takes part in this “boycott” and I’ll just buy online.

We’ll see who goes out of business first.