If you bought a cute little Copilot trailer to ferry your kid around town with your bike, we’ve got some bad news: Your purchase supported the gun industry.
Same goes if you paid for a Bell or Giro brand bike helmet, or a Razkulls child helmet or Camelbak water bottle. All of those bike brands are properties of Vista Outdoor, which is also the largest ammunition manufacturer in America and the maker of the MSR15, an AR15-style assault rifle.
The company is very politically active in the gun lobby, with strong ties to the NRA and its lesser-known but powerful industry cousin, the NSSF.
As Streetsblog founding editor Aaron Naparstek laid out in a Twitter thread, Vista Outdoor owns guns and ammo brands like Savage Arms, Federal Premium Ammunition, BLACKHAWK!, and Bushnell. In total, about 40 percent of the company’s business is ammunition, according to industry analysts.
Savage Arms is the seventh largest gun maker in America, Mother Jones reports. After the Newtown massacre, the company ran “around-the-clock shifts to keep up with demand.”
These days, with Obama-related paranoia on the wane among American gun owners, business isn’t booming anymore for companies like Vista. That makes its lobbying efforts all the more important to its bottom line. Choke off the revenue from assault rifles and the ammunition they spit out, which is seeming like a distinct possibility in the wake of the Parkland High School shooting, and revenues would be down even more for Vista.
In 2017, Vista directly spent more than $500,000 on federal lobbying, and it is deeply enmeshed in the gun industry’s efforts to keep up sales for weapons capable of mass murder.
Vista hosts one of the largest booths at the NRA’s annual gun show each year, and Federal Premium Ammunition is a featured sponsor of NRATV, which has recently been putting out videos that aim to work people up into a lather of paranoid aggression.
Robert J. Keller, the president of Vista’s “shooting sports” division, sits on the board of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which the Atlantic calls the “NRA’s smaller, highly effective cousin.” Vista CEO Mark DeYoung chairs the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, which “lobbies on behalf of ‘America’s hunters and anglers,’” Mother Jones reports. None other than Paul Ryan keynoted its annual banquet in 2015.
For people who bike, boycotting Vista brands would be like a form of divestment from the gun lobby. Bike advocacy organizations, which accept sponsorships from brands like Bell and Giro, have a role to play too. As Naparstek points out, cutting off the flow of money to Vista’s bike brands would deal a serious blow to the company right now.