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Moral maze: Lance Armstrong’s bike shop drops cycling brands owned by gun firm

Mellow Johnny's in Austin, Texas will no longer stock brands including Bell, Giro and Camelbak after Florida school shootong...

The Austin, Texas bike shop Mellow Johnny’s owned by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has dropped cycling brands owned by one of the biggest firearms manufacturers in the United States.

As we reported on last month, a boycott was launched by cyclists in the US of brands including Bell, Giro and Camelbak that are owned by Vista Outdoors in the wake of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting last month.

The group’s main business is making and selling firearms and ammunition, including assault rifles that are legal in a number of states.

In a statement on its website, Mellow Johnny’s Austin branch said:

Our Appeal to Vista Outdoor

Shortly after the Parkland, Florida tragedy, we made some difficult decisions and sent a letter to Vista Outdoor, the parent company of Bell Sport, Giro, Camelbak, Blackburn, and other outdoors manufacturers, with an appeal regarding their NRA relationship.

Our decision was to join others like Dick's Sporting Goods, REI, and Mountain Equipment Co-op in ceasing to carry products under the Vista umbrella.

These brands have long been staples of our business, and rightfully so. We have always enjoyed stellar relationships with our sales reps—the hard-working people on the ground—and it is not without regret and sadness that we must suspend these relationships.

We understand that all of you may not agree. We ask that you consider our position objectively, as we also respect your view and reach a compromise.

These are the views of Mellow Johnny's in Austin, Texas. They do not necessarily represent the views of any other Mellow Johnny's location.

The shop also said that it had sent a letter to Vista Outdoor at the end of February, but has not received a reply to date. Here is the text.

February 28, 2018

To the Stakeholders and Leadership of Vista Outdoor,

In light of the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida, we cannot ignore the fact that Vista Outdoor is a longtime supporter of the NRA. While historically it has made sense to support an organization that—at one time—advocated for sport shooting, hunting, and general outdoor preservation, it has become clear that the NRA has become deaf to the public safety issue that mass casualty weapons present. We continue see these weapons used for the sole purpose of mass murder, and we continue to see inaction and staunch resistance to management of these weapons by the NRA. The NRA’s focus has become tragically single-minded in its defense of all weapons, regardless of the imbalance between usefulness and lethality.

We ask that Vista Outdoor stop funding the NRA. Supporting the organization is misdirected and outdated, and there are many other ways to advocate for outdoors initiatives—including hunting and shooting—in the modern world. Meanwhile, we admire the courage and action that fellow retailers Dick’s Sporting Goods and REI, among others, have taken toward safety and reason.

We appreciate the many noble associations you have with youth sports and shooting organizations like Boy Scouts, 4H, QDMA, mentorship programs and many others. These champion youth shooting safety, wildlife appreciation, and outdoor advocacy in a positive an impactful way that appear at odds with the NRA’s current path.

At this time, we are prepared to cease business with Vista brands Giro, Bell, Blackburn, and Camelbak, with whom we’ve spent a significant number of dollars over a decade. Although we enjoy the quality of the products and the relationship with our sales channels, we cannot in good conscience perpetuate the support of the NRA.

We look forward to hearing that Vista Outdoor takes a positive step toward public safety and withdraws NRA support.


The Stakeholders and Management of Mell Johnny’s Bike Shop, Austin, Texas

Armstrong was formerly sponsored by Easton-Bell Sports, owners of the Giro cycle helmet brand.

They were among the companies to sever ties with him after he was banned from cycling for life and stripped of his seven Tour de Fance victories.

At the time, they said they "would not be continuing sponsorship of Lance Armstrong going forward."

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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