Photo: ©AFP

Ottawa (AFP) – Canadian outdoor outfitter Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) said Thursday it will stop selling outdoor sports items made by brands owned by a US company that also sells assault-style rifles.

The retailer was responding to the outcry over a Valentine’s Day Florida school shooting that saw a 19-ear-old kill 17 people.

MEC does not sell guns, but it does carry binoculars, water bottles and other gear made by Utah-based Vista Outdoor, which earns half of its revenues from sales of guns and ammunition, including a weapon similar to the one used in the Florida shooting.

Vista Outdoor’s various brands include Bell, known for its cycling helmets; snow sports and cycling item makers Giro and Bolle; CamelBak, which pioneered water-carrying backpacks; binocular and telescope producers Tasco and Bushnell; and outdoor grill maker Camp Chef.

MEC said it faced pressure from five million co-op members after the Florida shooting to drop all Vista Outdoor brand items.

“Thousands of MEC members have contacted us to express their concerns and to ask that we stop selling products made by these brands,” chief executive David Labistour said in a letter to members.

MEC’s announcement comes on the same day that US grocer Kroger said its Fred Meyer stores would ban gun sales to customers under the age of 21. Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced similar measures on Wednesday, while Dick’s also stopped selling assault-style rifles. Walmart had ended those sales in 2015.

Last week other US companies, including airlines, insurers and car rental chains, said they were ending promotions with the National Rifle Association lobbying group, revealing a partial shift in US gun politics amid fervent student-led activism and intense social media campaigns.

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