Vilifying Gun Owners Doesn’t Lead to a Better Society: New at Reason

Progressives push their luck with their totalitarian insistence that everybody is with them or against them on guns and so much else.

J.D. Tuccille writes:

Last week, outdoor gear retailer REI became the latest business to pledge its fealty to the raging culture war against wrongthink. It's a high-stakes move that's unlikely to end well for the activists pushing the effort.

"We believe that it is the job of companies that manufacture and sell guns and ammunition to work towards common sense solutions that prevent the type of violence that happened in Florida last month," REI announced with regard to its relationship with supplier Vista Outdoor. "This morning we learned that Vista does not plan to make a public statement that outlines a clear plan of action. As a result, we have decided to place a hold on future orders of products that Vista sells through REI while we assess how Vista proceeds."

But "REI does not sell guns," as the firm itself announced. Instead, it sells products—including Camelbak hydration gear—made by companies that are owned by Vista Outdoor, which also owns Savage Arms, which does sell guns. REI's announcement, then, is a test of its economic leverage to compel a company with which it has no direct relationship to embrace a specific set of firearms policy preferences. (REI's Canadian counterpart, MEC, made a similar move.)

"It may seem a little bit like internet slacktivism," Slate senior business correspondent Jordan Weissmann concedes of the focus on isolating and inconveniencing the National Rifle Association and gun owners. "But it does send a message that the organization is no longer politically mainstream, which might ultimately matter to some politicians."

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