CSAAA responds to MEC decision to drop VISTA Outdoor brands


For immediate release

PETERBOROUGH, ON March 2, 2018 – As representatives of Canada’s sporting arms business owners, the Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA) was extremely disappointed to hear the recent decision by Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) to abandon VISTA Outdoor as a supplier and appalled at the vilification of VISTA and its employees.

It is an emotional time and the CSAAA has been careful not to step forward during a time when passions are running high and reasonable discussion is not yet possible. However, we cannot stand by when good people, working in a responsible Canadian industry are being targeted unfairly.

There are nearly 4,500 firearm and ammunition businesses in Canada, employing and estimated 25,000 Canadians. Most of these are small business owners. These are hard working Canadians with families, supporting their local communities, raising their kids, and just as concerned about the safety and well-being of their families as every other parent and citizen.

By making an emotional decision in response to the demands of an ill-informed membership base in the wake of a very tragic event occurring outside of Canada, MEC has unfairly smeared these Canadian business owners and their employees and put their jobs and livelihoods at risk all for the sake of a few minutes of good PR.

The outcry from MEC members stemmed from VISTA Outdoor’s ownership of Savage Arms; which manufacturers modern sporting arms. In Canada, we have a very stringent firearms culture and regulatory environment and while these firearms are available in Canada, they are classified as restricted, requiring extensive training and background checks to obtain a license, and fire one bullet at a time from a magazine limited to five rounds. In practical terms, they are no more dangerous in Canada than a typical hunting rifle.

Savage Arms Canada, a longtime member of the CSAAA, employs nearly 140 people in the small town of Lakefield, Ontario where they have been manufacturing sporting rifles since 1969 (originally as Lakefield Arms).

Canadian firearms businesses and owners operate in one of the most regulated environments in the world. “If there was any evidence that further restricting law abiding business owners and gun owners would make our country safer, our industry members would be on board,” said Wes Winkel, president of the CSAAA and owner of Ellwood Epps Sporting Goods in Orillia, Ontario.

School shootings are at the heart of the current public debate over firearms regulations, and this is an issue for all Canadians, including CSAAA members. All of us want to know our children are safe when they are at school. But Canada’s regulatory environment already provides the most stringent protection around the purchase and ownership of firearms. No additional firearms regulations are going to prevent a disturbed individual from carrying out a deranged plan to attack a school. The real solution needs to focus on access to our schools and it is the position of the CSAAA that metal detectors in schools are the most effective preventative measure we can take to protect our schools from this type of crime.

Metal detectors have been a proven method of enhancing security and are currently used in stadiums, government buildings, court houses, airports and banks. Why would we not take this simple step to secure our children from all dangerous weapons entering their schools?

And most importantly, our focus, and our tax funding, needs to be spent on the most proven violence prevention efforts that focus on key public health strategies at the individual, community and societal levels to better identify and prevent violent behaviour.

“While no method of security brings 100 per cent protection, it is time that our society stops wasting time and resources on ineffective gun control and starts directing their efforts on proven security measures to protect our children,” said Winkel. “There is no evidence that escalating the level of red tape on licensed, law-abiding gun owners in Canada will enhance the safety of our children at school. For our society to continue to push and pay for these initiatives prevents us from getting to real solutions.”


For more information, contact

Alison de Groot, Managing Director

Canadian Sporting Arms and Ammunition Association (CSAAA)

P.O. Box 2343,

Peterborough, ON K9J 7Y8





Interviews with Mr. Wes Winkel, President CSAAA, are available, please contact us to arrange. Founded in 1973, the CSAAA represents Canadian manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers in the sporting arms industry. We promote our members’ commitment to the legal sales of firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and hunting and shooting sports accessories. . We support and promote hunting and shooting sports as heritage activities and our small business owners as meaningful contributors to their local and our national economies.

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