The families of Sandy Hook shooting victims beg Bass Pro Shops to stop selling ‘weapons of war’ as other retailers change their gun policies

As retailers including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kroger, and Walmart change their firearm-sales policies, Bass Pro Shops and its sister brand, Cabela’s, have remained silent.

Now, the pressure is on.

The families of nine families of Sandy Hook victims are demanding that the outdoor-recreation retailer immediately stop selling assault-style rifles. Koskoff, Koskoff & Biedersent, the law firm representing families in a lawsuit against Remington over the sale of guns used in the shooting, sent a letter to Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris on Thursday.

Morris has maintained that “conservation is the heart and soul” of Bass Pro Shops, something the families begged the CEO to take into account when considering its gun policies.

Bass pro shops
Bass Pro Shops sells a range of hunting and fishing products. Bass Pro Shops Pyramid

“Conservation is not limited to lakes and streams; it is defined as prevention of injury, decay, waste, or loss; preservation,” the letter reads.

It continues: “Your fealty to that ideal rings hollow while Bass Pro Shops continues to sell weapons of war that are routinely used to commit mass murder.”

The letter asks that Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s pull all assault-style rifles, including the Bushmaster AR-15, which was used in the Sandy Hook shooting, and the Smith & Wesson M&P AR-15 used in the Parkland, Florida shooting.

Gun-control activists have been pressuring Bass Pro Shops to change its firearm policies since Wednesday, when Dick’s announced it would no longer sell assault-style rifles and raise the minimum age for firearm purchases to 21.

Customers flooded the retailers’ social-media accounts with requests that they follow Dick’s example and change their policies on firearm sales.

Bass Pro Shops has not publicly responded to gun-control activists. It further did not responded to multiple requests from Business Insider for comment.

Neither Dick’s nor Bass Pro Shops breaks out how much of its business comes from gun sales. But hunting supplies make up a large part of Bass Pro Shops’ and Cabela’s image. Bass Pro Shops, for example, holds NRA Freedom Days, offering discounts to customers who join or renew their National Rifle Association memberships in stores.

Business Insider obtained a full version of the letter to Morris from Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder.

Here is the full heartbreaking letter to Bass Pro Shops’ CEO:

Dear Mr. Morris,

We represent nine Connecticut families who lost a precious child or beloved spouse on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Their names are Daniel Barden, age 7; Dylan Hockley, age 6; Benjamin Wheeler, age 6; Noah Pozner, age 6; Jesse Lewis, age 6; Vicki Soto, age 27; Lauren Rousseau, age 30; Rachel D’Avino, age 29; and Mary Sherlach, age 56. Our law firm is less than a mile from one of your flagship stores here in Bridgeport, CT. We write to urge you, as founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, to immediately halt all sales of assault rifles nationwide.

We imagine that when you began selling fishing tackle out of the back of your father’s liquor store in 1972, you probably didn’t envision the scope of what Bass Pro Shops would become. But from the beginning, you’ve been pursuing something more than profit – something more consequential: “It doesn’t matter what new products our vendors create, or what great marketing campaigns they develop. Nor does it matter how many catalogues we mail or new stores we build.” What matters, you recognised, is what we leave our children. “Conservation is at the heart and soul of Bass Pro Shops,” you’ve said. “It is of vital importance that we invest in the future.”

There has never been a better – or more urgent – time to act on those convictions, Mr. Morris. Conservation is not limited to lakes and streams; it is defined as prevention of injury, decay, waste, or loss; preservation. Your fealty to that ideal rings hollow while Bass Pro Shops continues to sell the weapons of war that are routinely used to commit mass murder.

From the shelves of your stores, a would-be mass shooter can select a Bushmaster AR-15 just like the one that robbed our clients of their loved ones; a DPMS AR-15 just like the one turned on holiday revelers in San Bernardino; a Sig Sauer MCX just like the one that gunned down 49 young people at a club in Orlando; Colt AR-15s just like the ones recovered in Las Vegas after the rampage that left 58 concertgoers dead; a Ruger AR-556 just like the one used to slaughter 25 people while they worshipped together in Sutherland Springs; a Smith & Wesson M&P AR-15 just like the one used fifteen days ago to kill and terrorize high schoolers in Parkland; and many, many more.

We ask you to confront that fact and grapple with its consequences. Do not allow the company you built to be complicit in the next senseless massacre. Reckon with the infinite human potential wasted each time a community buries its children. Commit to understanding what our young people have lost – friends, family, a sense of security, and faith that their lives are valued above profit. This new generation is the future you vowed to protect, Mr. Morris, and they are literally fighting for their lives.

It is never too late to do the right thing.


Josh Koskoff Katie Mesner-Hage