REI gun policy: Several tough questions and one easy answer

Yesterday I visited my local REI store for the first time in a long time, at least since 2015. As an REI member, I have a modest dividend credit to use up within the next six months. There’s a small camping stove I’ve had my eye on recently, and I know they carry it. I was hoping they might have a floor model so I could see just how small it is. They didn’t, but I did see this sign as I walked in the store:

Irony: REI sells weapons but does not welcome them in their store

Now, like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve been in REI, but it’s no secret they’ve been turning their back on outdoor enthusiasts for years, at least here in Arizona. You know, the folks who would possibly have a knife in their pocket or maybe a handgun tucked under their belt. As the years have gone by, the Paradise Valley store that had once been stuffed with high-quality outdoor gear is now mostly full of overpriced, low-quality clothing. Maybe the folks who buy that stuff don’t mind shopping in a defenseless victim zone.

Still, the store continues to carry a small amount of decent gear, which is why I was there in the first place. After seeing the sign, though, I started asking myself a bunch of questions:

  • Since REI has recently been rebranding itself to emphasize its cooperative origins, how many members were consulted before deciding to turn the Paradise Valley store into a target-rich environment?
  • Was there a specific security threat at this store that made management decide to post the sign? In other words, is REI telegraphing the store is unsafe despite its location adjacent to one of the most affluent towns in the country?
  • Is this the only REI store where a gunbuster sign is posted? Are only Arizona stores posted? If so, what makes a concealed firearm more dangerous in this store or in Arizona than in other places?
  • Since most peace officers carry some sort of weapon, and since Arizona laws don’t generally treat peace officers differently when a place is posted like this, is REI telling police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and Federal agents they’re not welcome?
  • Since REI has a display case full of knives for sale, many of which would be considered weapons by reasonable people, if I buy such a knife from them, am I trespassing as I walk from the checkout counter to the front door? If I attempt to return a knife I bought there, will they press criminal charges?
  • Since no one checked me on the way into the store, how does REI enforce this gun-free policy? Does it bother anyone at REI that the only people in the store with weapons are the ones who don’t respect signs?

As the questions kept piling up, I remembered something rather important. Since enough time has passed, I can request a check for my dividend. Instead of getting answers from them, I can just spend my REI dividend at Cabela’s. It turns out they carry the same stove, and it’s a lot more fun to shop there.

(P.S.: If any readers frequent REI stores outside Arizona, please comment on how stores are posted there.)

12 thoughts on “REI gun policy: Several tough questions and one easy answer”

  1. I think we all know that people who carry concealed into REI probably think the sign doesn’t apply to them. It’s the client mentality that shops there. I think you should take your dividend check and do business elsewhere.

    1. I’ve already applied online for a dividend check to be cut. That’ll get me out of the cycle of going back to the store to use up a credit.

  2. I say shop at a local independent retailer. AZ Hiking shack is a pretty decent place. I’m a firm believer in the power of local dollars. Id rather spend an extra $10 supporting a local business than save it by putting it in the pockets if a retail giant like REI that . Plus, AZ small business owners don’t have to subscribe to the liberal horsesh*t agendas being pushed on us at every turn. That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. Here’s an interesting website to review if you really want to get an idea of where your money is being spent.

    1. Funny, I’ve never been to Arizona Hiking Shack, but it was on my short list of alternate retailers for the stove I wanted. I ended up at Cabela’s, which is neither small nor local, but at least it’s a fun place to shop. I do plan to check out Arizona Hiking Shack when I need more fuel.

    2. Follow-up: Kathryn and I finally went to Arizona Hiking Shack last weekend. Kathryn got her first pair of proper hiking shoes, and I got some freeze-dried emergency rations. Friendly, helpful staff and reasonable prices.

  3. I would never shop at a store that sells guns or allows anyone but law enforcement to have guns on property.

    1. Do you not see the irony in a store that both sells and bans weapons? If it’s your preference to shop at those mega-conglomerate retailers that post their stores, you’re certainly welcome to do so. I’ll continue to keep my options open with the thousands of mom-and-pop local retailers that don’t.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve never heard of a sign stopping a bad guy with a gun. However, those same signs do tend to keep cops away.

  4. I’ve already contacted Cabellas, Bass Pro, Sportsman warehouse, etc., who now carry assault rifles, high capacity magazines and sell any weapons to teenagers. I told them I was not doing business with them until they stop selling assault rifles, high capacity magazines and raise the age to purchase any weapon to at least 21 years of age. Assault weapons are not for hunting anything but people and if you need a high capacity magazine, you probably should stay home until you can hit something. If you feel like people are going to shoot you in an REI, you should seek help, you have a problem.

    1. It’s certainly your right not to do business with whomever you choose, as it is mine.

      Let’s say your boycott is successful. Heck, let’s say it’s so successful, every retailer in the United States stops selling any firearms to anyone. What then? Will the estimated 400 million privately owned firearms in this country suddenly cease to exist? Will the mentally ill stop obtaining them through their own deceit or by the bureaucratic failures of our government? Will children stop stealing them from their parents?

      My post, which by the way is almost nine months old, was about retailers allowing citizens to carry defensive weapons into their stores. Where I live, this is common, particularly in stores that sell outdoor goods. REI is one of the few exceptions. I highlighted the irony that REI both sells and bans weapons. To me, it looks like you didn’t read my post before commenting. Also, your ad hominem was uncalled for. Since I’m feeling charitable today, I approved your incoherent, barely literate comment anyway.

    2. Michael,
      A few thoughts (apologies for the wall of text):
      1) How much have you spent at Cabela’s /BP / SW / Etc. over the past 12 months? If these stores do respond favorably to your demands, how much will you spend with them over the next year? How much stock do you own in those companies? If, as I suspect, the answers are “$0”, “$0”, and “none”, why should they listen to you?
      2) “…any weapons to teenagers”? Really? You can walk into one of those stores as a 13 year old and get a pistol? A rifle? I won’t dignify that comment any more.
      3) Define an “assault weapon”. Please note that “black and scary gun” doesn’t cut it. Explain how one differs from a traditional semi-automatic hunting rifle. Oh, and how one differs from a policeman’s “patrol rifle”.
      4) What other rights are you ok with abridging? Should we raise the voting age to 21, as well? Or prevent students from going on TV to advocate anti-gun policies until they’re 21 (that’s “free speech”. in case you’re wondering)? How about no abortions until 21, as well? You abridge someone’s rights at your peril, for once you start down that path, one day someone will skewer a right you hold dear.
      5) If “assault rifles” are only useful for “hunting people”, why are police issued them? Last time I checked, cops don’t hunt people, except metaphorically. Oh, and you don’t get to say “well, they need them for defense against criminals”, because they’re only used to “hunt people”. They’re either useful for defense or they’re not. If you don’t want someone to defend themselves, why are you pro-crime?
      6) Yep, you’re right. You won’t ever be shot in an REI. Or a nightclub in Florida. Or a “Regional Center” in CA. Or a movie theater in CO. Or a McDonald’s in San Ysidro. Or a JCC in Los Angeles. Or a Luby’s in TX. Or…well, you get the point. No evil people exist anywhere. It’s completely the fault of the guns. Sure, dude, sure.

      1. Thanks for your thought-provoking comment, Dan! In particular, your fourth point brings to mind the famous “First they came …” poem. Who will speak up when they come for the rights you cherish?

  5. Note: This post appears to be in the process of being brigaded. I welcome a variety of opinions, but please read the entire post first and keep your comments on topic. I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason. Also, please note, since I have no way of verifying full names, titles, credentials, etc., I routinely delete all but the first names of commenters before publishing comments.

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