BUSINESS
05/01/2018 14:14 EDT | Updated 05/01/2018 14:14 EDT

Vista Outdoor To Seek Buyers For Its Firearms Business

The company has been pressured by retailers that sell its other goods, like Bell bicycle helmets, following the Parkland shooting.

JASON REDMOND / Reuters
Parkland, Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez is pictured on a sign during a "March for Our Lives" demonstration demanding gun control in Seattle, Washington, March 24, 2018.

WASHINGTON — Another company, this one among the largest ammunition makers in America, is distancing itself from firearms following the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High in February.

Vista Outdoor Inc. has been pressured for months by retailers that sell its other goods like Bell bicycle helmets and CamelBak water carriers, to stop manufacturing firearms.

The Utah company said Tuesday that it will be seeking buyers for its firearms manufacturing business, and will focus on products for outdoor enthusiasts. It will continue to sell ammunition, its biggest core businesses.

REI, the national outdoor retailer, suspended all orders from Vista in March after it refused to say if it would continue to manufacture weapons. REI said it's aware of Vista's announcement, but did not say if it would resume doing business with the company.

During a conference call Tuesday, Vista CEO Cristopher Metz said that the company was already moving in the direction of shedding its firearms business, "way before any of the noise came about eight weeks ago.''

In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting, Dick's Sporting Goods banned the sale of assault-style rifles and the sale of all guns to anyone under 21. Other retailers followed with similar restrictions, including Walmart, Kroger and L.L Bean.

In March, Citigroup became the first bank to put new restrictions on firearm sales by its business customers, requiring its clients and business customers not to sell a firearm to anyone who hasn't passed a background check or anyone under the age of 21.

Looking for buyers for firearms brands

Also in March, the investment firm Blackrock said it would be canvasing gun makers and retailers to determine how they will act following the shooting in Parkland, Florida. BlackRock, which manages over $6 trillion in assets, is a major shareholder of gun manufacturers Sturm Ruger, American Outdoor Brands and Vista Outdoor through indirect investments.

In mid-February, 17 students were killed and as many were wounded in a hail of gunfire. Former student Nikolas Cruz has been charged in the deaths using an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle.

Vista last year had revenue of $2.5 billion. It is looking for buyers for its Savage and Stevens firearms brands, and other product lines not related to firearms.

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