The Boycott

The Boycott

The Parkland, Florida, shooting. What can you say? That we allow this to persist in the face of empirical evidence that these shootings can be stopped has made us the laughingstock of the first world. And the second. Even people in the third world are scratching their heads.

But a bunch of high school kids are taking action and have caused millions others to mobilize. A boycott of every company supporting the National Rifle Association has gained traction. The number of gigantic corporations that have cut ties with the NRA is impressive:

Alamo Rent a Car
Allied Van Lines
Chubb Insurance
Delta Air Lines
Enterprise Rent-a-Car
First National Bank of Omaha
North American Van Lines
Paramount Rx

One of the only remaining holdouts is FedEx. Given the progress the Sleeping Giants movement has made, I imagine that we are but days from an announcement that FedEx has pulled out.

So what’s next? Bike Portland and LA Streetsblog have suggested a boycott of bike companies that are owned by Vista Outdoor, whose primary business prior to those purchases was guns and ammunition. Vista’s bike holdings include:


To my mind the question isn’t so much whether or not to boycott. Boycotts work. We know that. The fact that the parent for Avis, Budget and Hertz pulled all three company’s support for the NRA is proof enough. To my eye, the real question is what we want to accomplish with a boycott. The goal, as I understand it, is to make supporting the NRA unpalatable, to dry up sources of income for them, to reduce their influence in politics and therefore, at some future point, goad our elected officials into passing some common-sense gun legislation. I’m down with that.

Vista Outdoor bought the companies above as a means to stabilize their income. It turns out that the gun market is volatile. I won’t go into the why; it doesn’t concern us.

Now let’s ask the question: What happens if we don’t buy any Giro shoes, Bell helmets or Camelbak bottles?

The first thing that happens is your local retailer ends up with stock they can’t move. If they pull it from the shelves to show their support for their customers, that’s dead money. Worse, because many retailers placed sizable preseason orders in order to secure the best pricing, they have more money already spoken for in the form of product that hasn’t even arrived yet. Bottom line: income falls for the retailer, and so many retailers are on the edge of profitability, this could easily send some of them over the edge.

Second, orders for products from Giro and the rest will fall because retailers who buy just a few pieces at a time will stop ordering stock they can’t move. Let’s say the boycott persists the rest of the year. Preseason orders for 2019 will shrink and cause Bell, et al, to tighten their belts because of the what we will assume has been a very noticeable decrease in revenue. The next step is that with less revenue, the CEOs of these companies will right-size their companies to their revenue. Good CEOs won’t just chop in one area; they’ll tighten the metaphorical belt across every sector. Some people will be laid off. People who may not even own guns and want to see the NRA shrink will pack up their desks. Also, development will be scaled back, meaning it may take longer to introduce a new, better helmet or cooler hydration pack. Marketing and advertising will shrink. That means that publishers like Bicycling, Mountain Bike Action and Peloton will suffer. Team sponsorship falls under marketing, so those great deals many clubs get on shoes and helmets will evaporate.

It’s impossible to guess how long it would take a boycott of these companies to result in their profitability dropping to the point that Vista Outdoor would sell them off, but it wouldn’t happen overnight. In the interim, there would be a lot of real-world suffering for people in the bike industry. By the time those companies were considered enough of a liability for Vista to conclude they needed to be sold, well, I don’t even want to imagine what kind of shape they’d be in. It would take them years to recover.

It’s a safe bet that the portion of profits from Camelbak and the other bike companies owned by Vista that are used to support the NRA is pretty tiny. Given that Vista owns 50 companies, the vast majority of which are either makers of guns or ammo, there’s not a scenario in which they don’t contribute to the NRA. They will always support the NRA. So shrinking one small part of what they send to the NRA won’t do much good.

There’s another approach we could take. Vista Outdoor is a public company sold on the New York Stock Exchange under VSTO. Write letters to all their institutional investors. If you have relationships with those institutional investors, cut ties and tell them why. Causing their stock price to drop will do them and the NRA way more harm than boycotting a few bike companies.

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  1. Richard Sachs

    “So shrinking one small part of what they send to the NRA won’t do much good.”

    It won’t do much good.
    But it will do some good.

    It is too bad that some of our peers, colleagues, and LBSs are part of this mix.
    There’s also the larger picture – in it are those children who’ve been murdered, and their families too.

    I think we’re at a time when doing the right thing, with its consequences and collateral damage and all, is the next step.

    I’ve been pondering my next step since this current industry news went viral late last week.

    1. Shawn

      The complication is, of course, that if the ‘collateral damage’ outweighs the good of this specific boycott, then the boycott is no longer the right thing. Responsibly considering the broader fall-out and harms to non-liable individuals is part of figuring out what the right thing to do is.

    2. Richard Sachs

      That’s what I wrote, or think I wrote!

      Anyway, I have to make a decision soon. It would be helpful (to me) to know that the brands would take a stand, maybe make a statement denouncing the actions and political machinations of the parent company. It might take balls to do this, but there ya’ have it.

    3. Author

      FWIW, I’ve spoken to contacts at a couple of these companies. To a person, they were unhappy when Vista purchased their employers. They have been uniformly muzzled from speaking on this topic, at least for now. I know they’d like to speak in their defense, but I don’t know when or if that might happen.

    4. Richard Sachs

      You use the word, muzzled. The phrase I received was “comment embargo.”

      Look – the only reason THE ONLY REASON this is a thing now, today, is because of last week’s massacre. That brought this to the surface. Staying mum doesn’t cut it. Protecting the brand doesn’t cut it. If these people speak out against the parent company, that will begin to cut it. Otherwise, as my wife often says in instances like this: Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.

    5. Author

      “Comment embargo” isn’t a bad term. I agree with Deb; evil does flourish when good men do nothing. That said, if I may, employees who speak out of turn are highly likely to be dismissed. It wouldn’t surprise me that the hires to replace those employees will be screened to make sure they are sufficiently compliant. With a more measured response internally, and working within their chain of command, I suspect we may yet hear supportive statements.

      But let’s explore this, all of us: Say that Giro finds a tactful way to issue a statement intended to acknowledge their uncomfortable position while supporting the cycling community’s desire for change on gun control. Just imagine for a second that the say exactly the right thing. What then? Are people really going to stop a boycott of Giro just because of one statement? Based on the more negative opinions expressed here, I don’t see that happening.

      I get that people want to take action and I support that. But I think if you really want to hit Vista Outdoor in a way that makes them squirm, writing their institutional investors and asking them to divest is a far more damaging prospect because it will hit all 50 of Vista’s brands, not just the five that we otherwise like.

  2. Kylee

    The issue is the NRA, not gun sales. Vista donated $500,000 to the NRA last year. Will the boycotters be satisfied if Vista stops donating money to the NRA?

    1. Steve S.

      I’ve thought about this and I think that I would find this acceptable. I’m not a gun person, but they are legal. I have friends with who hunt, target shoot, and are responsible gun owners. However it is the NRA videos with Dana Loesch hyping the story that the government wants to take your guns, that private gun ownership is the only thing keeping our nation from descending into hell, and the obvious race baiting that I find really nauseating. I know that Vista Outdoor will still lobby to keep long guns like the AR-15 legal, but again, guns are legal and corporations lobby Congress 24/7. However, if Vista Outdoor stopped funding the NRA, and their dystopian version of America was not the primary voice of the industry, then I would hope that an actual real discussion about the role of guns in America could begin to take place. As far as the boycott goes, I’ll know where I fall in the matter when I’m in my LBS looking to buy new gear.

    2. Shawn

      Steve S.: As things stand, the government does not want to take your guns. But that’s part of the change people are working to achieve. If that happens, the government will want to take your guns. I’m not sure what it means or that it matters, but the NRA sees itself as the only thing standing in the way of that happening, so its debate position (and using fear tactics) is not irrational. Indeed, both sides are pulling the fear lever.

      Boycotts are serious, and they should only be undertaken with full knowledge they will have consequences beyond the delivery of social justice, and some of the consequences may not be pretty to look at. Even crippling the NRA itself will likely put a number of innocent, sympathetic employees out of their jobs. Here, the issue is huge. My kids are walking out of their AP classes, at great risk to their class rankings and college prospects. So if Giro &such are part of the problem, so be it. There are other helmets out there, and other hydration packs, and other luggage racks.

    3. Jeff Dieffenbach

      What’s the evidence that some future US government will want or be in a position to “take your guns?” The only way that can happen is to change the Constitution, and I simply don’t see that happening any time soon (and that clock marks its demarcations with decades).
      I certainly lean left politically. But I don’t want to change the Second Amendment. I support the right of law-abiding, mentally-competent Americans to possess well-regulated firearms.

    4. Author

      I’d like to refer you to my comment in which I state my desire to get back to the boycott, not the political issues surrounding the shooting. Let’s stick to the topic at hand.

  3. Rob Davis

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention too!! As you seek to remind us to be careful who we support in what ways its time that I follow that advice. I’ve really enjoyed RKP but don’t see where, or why, my cycling and politics need to be combined. I’ve been listening to the podcast primarily and perusing the site. I have been an RKP donor, since Dec 2016, up until today.

    1. Author

      Rob, I respect that you are disappointed with this post. I normally steer clear of politics and must say this isn’t a subject I’m excited to write about. I understand that you are withdrawing your support for RKP. I just believed it was important for me to show my support for companies that do good work in the bike industry and will be unnecessarily harmed by this boycott. It’s a shame that me standing up for my principles would put us at odds, but I accept the consequences.

  4. Michael Burdge

    Well, there’s a slippery slope argument. The point of a boycott is not to run small businesses out of operation, but to make an economic point to companies whose values clash with your own. It is not plausible that ‘everyone’ will stop buying all bicycle-related Vista products; they will still be sold, but hopefully in fewer numbers so that Vista will see that, while they have only thoughts and prayers for the people murdered by weapons they make and promote, enough consumers of cycling products (at least) will not reward them for their decisions by buying helmets, shoes, and bottle cages from Vista.
    We all see your concern for the LBS owners who placed large orders with Vista companies, but this post amounts to merely a call to wring our hands while we dutifully and uninterruptedly continue to purchase items marketed by a for-profit company in a competitive, free-market system. Until you write a post urging consumers to think of the poor LBS owners who are sitting on mountains of unsold 23c tires, or tight clearance race bikes with mechanical Dura Ace in areas where gravel is popular, your call rings hollow. No one bailed out ETTO helmets, or Vetta, or Rhode Gear, or any of the other companies Giro, Bell, or Blackburn sidelined in their march to market dominance. This is a free market–if customers don’t want shoes and helmets sold by a gun company, then that is the way it goes. Websites (and to a far lesser extend today, magazines) direct sales all of the time, and there are LBS losses every time a prominent site promotes helmet X–the shop that picked helmet Y often has to clear them out at a loss. Now, instead of product blogs directing sales, it is people who are a bit sick of kids getting shot. Maybe let them have a turn for once.
    Ultimately, the issue is of personal integrity–do I want to support a gun company? Do I want to support an arms company/defense contractor? The market for quality cycling products is robust, and many options for all P and A exist. Deciding ahead of time that one’s purchases won’t support arms/defense may mean that you pick King cages instead of Blackburn, or POC helmets instead of Giro. I will not be purchasing any Vista products. You can do what you like, but my conscience is clear.

    1. AG

      I agree with Michael on all counts. Blackburn, Giro, Camelbak et al have benefited from a free market system and they have undoubtedly enjoyed increased profits when older, smaller companies have gone out of business. So it seems a little disingenuous to say that they should be shielded from similar market forces.

      Padraig, you always have a balanced approach and your concern for the entire food chain is admirable. But on this issue, I feel too strongly about a greater American problem to be too concerned about Giro’s employees. Maybe there are those who are totally OK to work ultimately for Vista and also support the NRA. Those that are not and don’t should also stand up and find work elsewhere (I know, I know…easier said than done). Also, I’m not sure how contacting investor groups to divest from Vista is really any different than a boycott. I’m pretty sure if investors start to leave or feel uneasy, Vista will sell-off the low hanging fruit…probably the cycling companies since they can always find political shelter in the other camp, right? Once stranded, how would that be beneficial to Giro and the others?

      I have already written emails to Giro, Camelbak, Blackburn and Bell to explain that I will not be purchasing their products as long as they are controlled by Vista. I have lots of gear from all of those companies (I never thought look at their ownership details). I will miss having those choices, but I don’t see that I can buy their products any longer.

  5. Jennifer

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but RKP has received advertising dollars from Blackburn, Bell, Giro, right? I believe that was while these brands were under a different parent company, but something you might want to disclose.

    1. Author

      They have all advertised in the past. Giro last advertised sometime around 2011. Blackburn last advertised in 2012. Bell last advertised in 2014. Camelbak has never advertised. Not a single dime from any of them in roughly four years.

  6. Barry Adam Johnson

    Change is a tough pill to swallow. Maybe you have to accept some direct personal effect in your life, materialistic or not. Anything worth doing on a grand scale will have sacrifices and cycling gear related jobs, product lines and stock are way down the list after lives.

  7. Slosurf

    I own 4 Giro helmets and 4 pairs of road and gravel shoes and numerous other pieces of their gear/kit. I spend quite a bit of money on bike stuff. Giro (or any of the other above-referenced brands) won’t see another dime from me as long as they are connected to Vista Outdoor.

  8. Jan

    I’d guess that there’s a big difference in the effect of boycotts on companies who do some business with the NRA compared to those whose primary business is selling guns and ammunition. I’d guess that the bike stuff is way secondary to the gun profits for that company, so a boycott seems unlikely to be effective against the company. (I’ve read somewhere that gun sales go way up whenever there’s talk of regulation.)

    I’ve heard there’s an attempt to organize a boycott of Florida for spring break in order to pressure legislators to enact gun control. I don’t know if supporters can pull that off. (I can hope, though.) I think THAT sort of boycott is far more likely to be effective if it works. Florida would be a start. (And yes, workers in service industries would be hit painfully.)

  9. Craig

    ” That we allow this to persist in the face of empirical evidence that these shootings can be stopped has made us the laughingstock of the first world. And the second. Even people in the third world are scratching their heads.” – what’s the empicical evidence and what’s the solution ? Only 38 States apparently even send information to the NICS background check system from what I’ve read, and as we’ve seen, even the Military wasn’t sending information to NICS that could prevent dishonorably discharged personal from buying weapons they shouldn’t have. Seems we need to fix that. And dumping on the NRA isn’t going to correct those massive flaws in the system. The NRA wants those things fixed too. By the way, I just got a great deal on a Giro helmet. I can only imagine a boycott will make Giro pricing even better. Another thing to think about – weapons and ammo manufacturers sell to the United States government and police departments across the country. They aren’t going away – ever. Your boycott of Giro can be offset by Homeland Security ordering 10 million rounds of ammo and thousands of guns.

    1. AC

      Right on. The knee jerk reactions and call for feel good measures that merely restrict the rights of law abiding citizens while not actually changing anything is so misguided. It’s disappointing to see that here, let alone the foray into politics sure to divide, while having nothing to do with bikes (the owners choice of course). It is very notable that the calls from the left aren’t to get the fbi and police to act on tips, or to fix NICS, but instead to politicize this and move forward their preexisting agenda. Personally I will buy more fr9m these companies, and up my contributions to NRA. I’ll save the boycotts for purveyors of ebikes.

  10. Mort

    The question for me is, “do I want to add to the profits of a company that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year lobbying in support of their weapons and ammunition business?” The answer is that I don’t. So when I need a new helmet, light, hydration system, etc. I won’t consider purchasing one made by a Vista Outdoor company. I’ll still go to my LBS, and I’ll still buy a product that was designed by someone, and made by someone, and packed by someone, but those people won’t be Vista Outdoor employees. Just as if I bought a Vista Outdoor product, my purchasing power wouldn’t be supporting some other business. I’ll do a bit more research into who actually owns the company whose products I’m buying, and try to find one that aligns with my values. I’ll let my LBS know of my choice, but I won’t boycott them if they feel they need to keep selling Vista Outdoor products.

  11. Chris Chesebro

    + 1 subscriber in me. Thanks for being willing to have a conversation about this.

    Part of the overall problem is people “not wanting to mix” politics and life.

  12. Grouty

    Unfortunately, guns are not the root cause of these tragedies. These incidents aren’t taking place simply because guns exist, but are manifestations of a sickness that runs much deeper. I agree that the rules need to change as far as how weapons are purchased and who is able to do so but, that isn’t going to address the root cause of the societal ills that lead to these acts of desperation. Maybe this is where it starts but I doubt it. This is just more noise, when the dust settles the oligarchs will still rule and we will all still be just as helpless as before. The boomers still control more than 65% of this country and they aren’t going without a fight, even if they destroy the future in the process, they don’t care. So, go ahead, boycott, protest, write letters, just don’t expect too much.

  13. Dave

    Look, kids, the NRA has become nothing short of a terrorist organization–they are so focused on a political objective that they are willing to see unnecessary loss of life to achieve it. In my mind, whatever it takes to take them down is a good thing–there are alternatives to the brands mentioned. The best result would be for non-firearms industry ownership to buy the brands, maybe that could happen. It is not a reasonable thing for guns to be such a large and profitable industry, especially the niche of selling military weapons to untrained civilians. Second amendment? Let’s take it like judicial originalists and say that you can have a right to unlimited ownership of one-shot, muzzle loading muskets. Let’s also be major pests to our congress critters if they are on the NRA’s payroll.

  14. Ron

    Thanks for this article. The Vista Outdoor situation has been on my mind as I scratched the Bell logo from my helmet. I won’t purchase another item from Bell, Giro, Camelbak, or Blackburn. I wouldn’t have purchased this newish Bell helmet if I had known of their relationship to Vista. This country is subject to a bizarre, toxic cult of gun worship that is totally at odds with any reasonable measure of civilized behavior and social organization. Push is coming to shove and in my opinion, yes, society should finally just knuckle down and take the guns away. On an individual scale, not doing business with any organization that supports the NRA is a prudent step.

  15. Lyford

    If this debate is going to continue here, please keep a clear distiction between NRA politics and firearms ownership in general.

    I grew up in a town where “Got your deer yet?” was a common greeting in the fall. It seemed that everyone had a .22 or shotgun for pest control. Going out to the back field to shoot cans or clay pigeons was a normal form of recreation. Demonizing folks for such ordinary activities is not a good way to have a constructive conversation.

    1. Winky

      Funny how “ordinary” for someone is “extraordinary” for someone else. What is ordinary for me is to not own a gun, nor to ever go shooting deer. Others would find that “extraordinary”.

    2. Author

      Further to that: I aim for this conversation not to go into gun ownership at all. I have a great many friends who hunt and know how to field-dress their kill. I don’t struggle with that, though it’s not my idea of a good time. I’m going to assume that everyone compelled to comment on this post wants to see the NRA’s influence on American politics diminished. That’s our topic. The only question is by what method we want to do that.

  16. Lyford

    Another point: The political strength of the NRA is not only in the money it gives to politicians. It is in the ability to flood Congressional and Senate offices with mail from constituents who support their positions.

    After Sandy Hook polling reported that 80% or more of Americans wanted stronger gun laws, but senators and congessmen reported that their mail was running 10:1 to 100:1 against new laws. That was real mail from real people in their districts, and representatives responded to that instead of to the national random polls. That’s the real power of the NRA.

    Gun-control advocates have been losing on Capitol Hill because they haven’t turned poll numbers into constituent mail. Win that battle, and you’ll see change.

  17. Winky

    After decades of riding in no other helmet, I’ve bought my last Giro helmet, at least until the company is sold to a non-gun-making owner.

  18. Eric

    Stick to cycling, RKP. Leave these hot button political issues to other sites.
    I strongly support the second amendment, as I do the rest of the Constitution. Blaming the NRA for the incident in Florida is shows you to be small-minded and grossly ill-informed.
    I’ll continue to support Camelback and Giro and the others.

    1. James

      If companies that make equipment used in cycling also make guns, this issue IS part of cycling, like it or not.

  19. JS

    Since the First Amendment isn’t under attack yet I’ll share my dissent. This attack is a tragedy. Like the high school children affected by this tragedy, you’re responding emotionally. I expect emotional reactions from high schoolers, I expect more of adults.

    “…empirical evidence that these shootings can be stopped”? What evidence is that? Cars and trucks are used as weapons to kill people (see New York bike path and Nice, 2016). When these heinous acts happen, do you post that GM and Ford should be boycotted? By your logic they manufacture weapons of death. They kill people don’t they? People still kill people with cars, trucks, bombs, knives, pressure cookers, and yes guns.

    The NRA advocates and is instrumental in teaching gun safety. But because the NRA lobby’s for support of the Second Amendment, they’re damned. Planned Parenthood is DIRECTLY involved in the deaths of millions of unborn babies, yet no one here calls for boycotts of PP. In fact my tax dollars are sent to support PP, which does not happen in the case of the NRA.

    Deep down many of us know the truth- this is a societal problem brought on by (among other things) the will full breakdown of the traditional family, violence sold by our entertainment industries that numbs our children, and parents abdicating what used to be job #1 – parenting their children no matter how difficult it is. How do we fix the societal problem? I have ideas which I employ as a parent.
    The real solutions are more complex, harder than just making ourselves feel better virtue signaling the debate for an NRA boycott.

    1. Michael Burdge

      There is a lot here–most of it wacky and based in logical fallacies–primarily a Tu Quoque argument. ‘Whatabout cars?’ is a Tu Quoque-based statement (not an argument), and since you brought it up, cars and trucks are heavily regulated and owning one requires registration and a competency-based test before operating one. Which is why they are safe. If there was a PCRA, who lobbied government to remove all regulations on pressure cookers, even giant ones with no practical purpose other than to pressure cook large numbers of people at a time, you would be approaching an equivalence to the NRA, but until then you are embarrassing yourself.
      The article Padraig wrote is about a boycott of a suite of bicycle brands owned by a company who is a member and donor to the NRA, and an industry response to that fact, following another massacre. Your irrelevant insertion of a Planned Parenthood example is another example of the Tu Quoque fallacy. You will act according to your own conscience, as will all of the readers here. But please don’t conflate your emotional attachment to bang bang sticks and a political chauvinism with rationality.

    2. EastCoaster

      Spot on JS. Many are blind to these and other exponentially egregious practices common in the US.
      The longer I live, the more I appreciate the wisdom of the founders of this country. The second ammendment exists for a reason (and not a revisionist history reason). It has been described as a last defense against a tyrannical government. The NRA lobbies to protect it. I expect the $$ and influence it has is tiny compared to the entities (foreign and domestic) that want to eliminate it. Someone has to stand and defend the 2nd, who else will do it?
      “What kind of government have you given us, Dr. Franklin?”
      “A republic, if you can keep it.”

    3. Jeff Dieffenbach

      JS, you wrote: “this is a societal problem brought on by (among other things) the will full breakdown of the traditional family, violence sold by our entertainment industries that numbs our children, and parents abdicating what used to be job #1 – parenting their children no matter how difficult it is.”

      I agree that it’s a stretch to say that there’s “…empirical evidence that these shootings can be stopped.” At the same time, I see no harm in trying things like requiring background checks on all firearms purchases, limiting magazine capacity, requiring training, and exploring smart weapon technology. I certain see no harm in allowing the CDC to do research into gun violence.

      And let’s be fair … your assertions about the traditional family, violence in entertainment, and parents abdicating their role is just that–an assertion. I’d love to see the evidence backing up those assertions.

  20. Crsig

    I hate to say it, but I’m re-directing my RKP monthly contribution to the NRA. Better stick to bikes. Ironically I sold my “ assault rifles “ to finance expensive road bikes.

  21. Tominalbany

    And the comments sections explains why Bell, Giro, Camelback, etc. may not be at risk after all. I’m going to guess that NRA supporters will begin buying ALL of their stuff from those companies while others walk away. It’ll be a shift in demographic. I know I have made purchases to support ‘giving’ by some businesses. I feel like that’s what will happen here. That, of course, doesn’t mean that the above mentioned companies won’t suffer. I’m going to guess some good people will leave those companies due to their ownership. they WILL be replaced by capable people that don’t have an issue with the ownership.

    I’m not going to expect someone to jeopardize their livelihood, though, by speaking out. I expect them to quietly walk out the door on their own terms and then, likely, explain why they did. And, that’s OK too.

    I think the bigger issue does indeed lie with the LBSs that will get stranded inventory. I hope they find a way around it.

  22. Ryan

    I saw a friend on facebook post a donation to the NRA fund page. smh.

    Giro, Bell and the like are going to be fine but a boycott by those who care can at least send a message.

    I, for one, will not be purchasing any products from companies who are owned by, or donating to, the NRA or companies that support the NRA.

  23. Ron

    The U.S. averages a school shooting every 2.5 days in 2018. There have been 30 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Trying to deflect the root cause of this obscenity away from the prevalence of guns and over to various ambiguously defined social ills runs afoul of the reality check provided by every other industrialized nation. Did they have a shooting problem at some point? The answer is invariably ‘yes’. Did they solve it by taking away the guns? Yes, they did. Boycott.

    1. Ryan

      The hardware has changed as has the marketing of the hardware. It’s easier to purchase an AR and 30 round magazines than it is to rent a car for someone under 25…these aren’t hunting firearms but firearms for a battlefield. We need to work the problem, and the problem includes easy access to firearms among other things. Not doing anything about firearms is not doing anything about the problem. Easy access to firearms is the one difference we have with other countries that have figured this out.

  24. Author

    I need to make one broad comment to those who have told me that RKP needs to stick to bikes and not politics. While I have my own political views, I don’t tend to bring them here and I wouldn’t have written a single word about the Parkland shooting were it not for this boycott. I care about the people who work in the bike industry. This is an exceedingly tough industry in which to make a living and this boycott strikes me as a self-inflicted wound.

    For those of you who have elected to withdraw your support for RKP, I respect that to be your decision to do. I am grateful for the support we have received and I’m sorry that my personal drive to do right by the people I care for has run afoul of your beliefs. I truly am.

    1. Shawn

      No one has a monopoly on boycotts. I suppose it goes along with the ideologically segregated lives we lead that we assume everyone we associate with shares our views, or that they would have the decency not to punish us for holding different beliefs. But that’s what boycotters do. As I said in a previous comment, boycotts are serious actions with serious consequences.

  25. Ed

    I bought a new Bell helmet last spring. If I were buying one this year, it wouldn’t be a Bell or Giro. Exert what pressure you can to stop the madness.

    How many kids need to die while the adults analyze all of the angles and debate ad nauseum?

    My nephew and his kids live in Newtown. My wife’s cousin and kids live in Parklsnd. I’m way beyond debates.

  26. Jeff G.

    Padraig – thank you for the article. I was not aware that these brands fell under the Vista umbrella. I’m undecided on whether or not it will change my purchasing habits, but I appreciate the knowledge.

    For those telling you to “stick to bikes”, it reminds me of the talking head telling LeBron James to “shut up and dribble”. Good luck with that.

    I’ll go ahead and make up for one of your loyal reader’s departures by signing up for monthly support. I should have done it a long time ago anyway.


    1. Author

      Well thanks! Interesting parallel with regard to LeBron James. Good point. Now, that said, I really don’t want RKP to be political in nature, but I felt it important to address the boycott because of the harm I see it could do to good companies.

  27. Author

    While there have been some very civil and well-considered comments regarding guns and gun violence, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for taking the time to bring their thoughts to the table, but I’d really like to steer this little boat out of more political waters and back to the real subject at hand: the boycott. I’d prefer to confine our discussion to the merits of the boycott and if people wish to take action what course of action will result in the greatest impact toward their stated goal. Thanks everyone.

  28. Steve S.

    Regardless of what I do as far as buying Giro or Bell this season, the commitment I must make is to my LBS. If it gets stuck taking a loss on products I decide to not buy, then I should make sure to purchase other items in their inventory and employ their service department to make up the difference.

  29. Grouty

    Boycotting isn’t as simple as it seems. You are talking about a diversified parent corporation, at least in this case. Bell won’t even notice a few bike helmets going unsold, camelbak has huge sales in the military and hunting communities, they will be largely unaffected by this as well. Giro, maybe. My question is, what about all the people in between? Employees at those companies had no say in being bought out by Vista. They will simply shuffle the profit and loss columns a little bit, cut a few jobs; maybe shift to exert influence on a different demographic. What will you have really done, besides make yourselves feel a little better, without taking any real risk to bring about change? I won’t punish a person or subsidiary company for what others have done, that makes no sense to me. What are you willing to give up to bring about a beneficial change to society? Your bike? Your job? Your comfort? Buying a different brand of helmet, shoe or backpack? You go, you big emotional spender you.

    1. Ryan

      It’s a mistake to think boycotting is the only avenue people will take to create change. It’s also a mistake to think that a company, even as large as Vista, will only feel the sting of less revenue in a few of it’s holdings. A boycott like this goes beyond the money pinch; it’s in the news and people are talking about it. It does make a difference, even though it won’t be the only thing that will help usher change.

  30. R

    As an international reader (from the UK) I find this all very interesting. I personally believe the mass shooting problem does not lie with guns, but I also do not understand the desire to own a gun like the AR-15. Hand guns, bolt action rifles & shotguns, that I get. But semi-auto machine guns?

    I think we reach a point in life where we realise we have to take moral position, no matter how small and how little difference it will affect the company we are boycotting. I for one will not buy any more VW related cars after the monkey experiments in South America, nor do I buy clothing made by children in India.

    I own a pair of Giro road shoes, but I will not buy any more products that assist with the funding of a body like the NRA. Yes I know it does not affect me, or my family in the UK, but it doesn’t mean I have to support it.

  31. Velo Commuter

    I cycle because I enjoy it , and in the enjoyment of cycling I can get away from all the problems of daily life of but for a few hours. To that end I have enjoyed listening to the Paceline podcast. Sadly Padraig ; you Fattie and Hottie have on more than one occasion. Felt a need to air your political / social beliefs and commentaries on a show that I lam listening to not for political debate, but as part of that previously mentioned escape. I find it disheartening that you, and everyone at RKP feels a need to become more partisan and further work to divide Americans by introducing this nonsense into a recreational activity like cycling.

    Please remember that when you attack the NRA you are attacking millions of hard working regular Americans who enjoy many other pursuits including cycling. In the future could you try to help heal the growing divide in America? Let’s find the common ground we both stand on rather than making emotional appeals for feel good measures that won’t make Americans safer and are not backed with facts and reason .

    Till that time I will stop subscribing to your podcast and will let other law abiding gun owning Americans who cycle know about your position.

    1. Author

      Thanks for your feedback. We genuinely aren’t looking to increase the partisan divide. In my personal life, I make the case constantly to find common ground with those we may disagree to try to heal that divide; I certainly don’t want it to grow. I wouldn’t have devoted any space to this at all were it not for the fact that people are suggesting a course of action that I believe will harm people who don’t, as they say, have a dog in the fight. I don’t dig it when cycling intersects with politics, but there are issues, like access to public lands, where politics got tracked in with someone’s shoes. We won’t all always agree, but to your point, I do hope we can find common ground at every opportunity. I’m sorry we will be losing you as a listener.

  32. JB

    Boycotting bike companies seems wacky. Boycott the Vista Outdoor companies that SELL GUNS if you want to be on topic.

  33. Timojhen M

    Get the defense of good people at the non-gun Vista companies, but the reality is that boycotts do matter. Watching REI step up on Friday due to public pressure certainly sets a tone/example.

    I appreciate RKP and the podcast and don’t plan to change my patreon support. That said, I don’t know that anyone could put forth a compelling case that the boycott isn’t a reasonable reaction. As noted by several commenters already, there will also be some individuals who seek out supporting companies who support their interests.

    I’m bummed as the camelback nozzles are a lot better than the specialized ones. I’ll miss them.

  34. KJD

    I’m not in the market for shoes, guns, headlights, or helmets, so my ire with the NRA support from a parent company is unlikely to manifest itself in any way on Giro/Blackburn etc. I think arguing against the boycott because it harms the subsidiary companies (and/or their employees) requires a significant philosophical exercise which I’m unable to complete. The transitive property is pretty clear, if A owns B and C, and you want to send a message to A or B, but you have no direct interaction with A or B, but you do normal and regular business with C, the only way you can actually influence A or B, is by decreasing your financial relationship with C in such a way as to negatively impact the owner (A) and to ensure that the message you want to send is relayed to the owner. Simply saying “write a letter to A” discounts how little A cares about your opinions, if it doesn’t affect their bottom line.

    I don’t want people at Giro to lose their jobs, and I like some of their product lines, but writing a letter to Vista telling them to stop supporting the NRA doesn’t do any good if I can’t follow up with an “or else.”

  35. Tim

    I find the idea of this boycott interesting on a few levels (I’m an Australian so I’m looking at this from afar).

    Firstly, I really do wonder if, in a country as divided as the USA on gun control, a boycott will even have a net positive effect from the point of view of the boycotters. For every person that feels so strongly against the NRA, will there not be at least one person that is a strong supporter. Maybe that’s not the case in the target audience of cyclists and I have no data to support this either way, it’s simply an observation based on the current status quo.

    Secondly, I’m not sure that I agree with the idea that the employees of Bell, Giro etc. are ‘innocent’ in this. If you feel so strongly about opposing the NRA and what it campaigns for then the workers who are complacent in their support for a company which supports the NRA are surely fair game as collateral damage. Having said that I do appreciate the difficult position that many of the employees have been put in and how much harder it is to make a stand for your beliefs when it impacts your livelihood.

    Lastly, I’m really not sure I can fault a company for donating money to an organisation who largely has their best interests at heart. People, and by extension companies, will act to protect their interests the majority of the time. It’s a fact of life. Even if a firearms manufacturer doesn’t agree with everything the NRA says and does, the NRA still represents the best voice they have to serve their interests. The NRA is only as effective as the people of USA allow it to be. Instead of concentrating of trying to reduce the voice of this portion of society it seems to me that the answer lies in creating your own message to oppose them and come election day exercising your democratic rights.

    1. Author

      You bring up some really interesting points. If you read through the other comments, you’ll see that there are NRA supporters among cyclists. The two are not mutually exclusive. Rather than discuss the point about innocence, what I’ll say regarding employees of the affected companies, that I’m not sure people fully appreciate, is that switching jobs in the bike industry isn’t easy. It can often require a move when you find one. Combine that with a spouse who has a local job and moving becomes much more difficult. Then there’s the fact that once you’ve been in the bike industry more than a decade, as many of these employees have been, trying to find work outside the bike industry can be next to impossible, unless you’re willing to wear a name tag. Finally, the political process here in the U.S. is swayed by the loudest voice, not the best-reasoned. Many people believe that money has shifted the political process away from the will of the people toward the desires of large corporations, so reducing the money organizations can spend on lobbying is seen (by some, if not many) as a necessary part of making sure the voice of the people can be heard.

  36. Author

    I’ve been following the developments with FedEx and their decision to continue their member benefits program for NRA members. If we can agree that the point of the boycott was to reduce funding to the NRA (and that’s what was stated by those who initially proposed it), then I see how a decrease in member benefits may make NRA membership less attractive to some people. It follows that fewer members means less operating revenue for them. I’m guessing that many, if not most riders may only make a purchase of the sort of product sold by Giro, CamelBak, Bell, etc. every other year, which probably isn’t a huge impact, though the PR has been awful, obviously. For those of you who support the boycott, I’m curious to know if you do business with FedEx on a regular basis ordinarily and if you’ve chosen to shift that business to UPS or the USPS. Thanks.

  37. Craig

    Just a comment on the companies choosing to discontinue giving NRA members a discount – I’ve been an NRA member for 25 years ( Endowment member currently ) and I’ve never once bothered to take advantage of any of these discounts. In fact I wasn’t even aware of most of them. If I understand correctly, Delta Airlines only gave about 13 NRA members discounts. It’s not something that makes any difference to most NRA members.
    I hope Vista does sell Giro and the others non gun related companies, because I’d hate to see Giro for one go out of business. I love their helmets and shoes. In fact I just picked up two helmets since I need to replace one, and the price was outstanding.

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