By Stan Bush
DENVER (CBS4) – Perhaps no store encapsulates life in the west more thoroughly than JAX Outdoor, an Northern Colorado staple selling everything from camping gear to hiking boots, outdoor décor, knit hats, and firearms.
“We’re all about getting people outside, from kids to adults,” said Jim Quinlan, JAX Outdoor’s founder. “We want to appeal to the lifestyle outdoors. The Colorado lifestyle.”
But in 2012, Quinlan made a decision that was controversial inside his business and to hardcore supporters of the Second Amendment by ending the sale of the best-selling AR-15 and other high capacity, detachable military-style weapons.
“I just can’t feel good and sleep well at night selling these firearms. I don’t want our company doing this,” Quinlan said. “I want to feel good about everything we sell.”
He says the company considered ending assault rifle sales after the Aurora Theater Shooting, but backed off. The final straw for Quinlan was the next mass shooting just a few months later at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
“I had kids of my own in elementary school, and that just tore me up. I empathized so much for those parents,” he said.
What followed was a torrent of extremes from customers. Some vowed to never shop with JAX again, while others, according to Quinlan, promised to shop even more.
JAX did not say they researched how the decision effected business, but it did not sink the company. Since banning the AR-15, JAX has added new locations and expanded existing stores.
“I’m not trying to make a political statement as a company. It’s about our values as a company and I think people can appreciate that,” he said.
Quinlan says he applauds Dick’s Sporting Goods for their decision to end sales of high capacity firearms. He says he supports gun rights, but does not believe those weapons have a place in society.
“Those are projectiles designed to kill humans. That’s not the business we want to be in,” said Quinlan. “There is a big difference in firearms today than there was in the 1700s.”
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Stan Bush is a general assignment reporter at CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 10. Read his bio and follow him on Twitter @StanBushTV.