Companies scramble to distance themselves from NRA

Companies that have business relationships with the National Rifle Association (NRA) are under increased pressure to cut ties with the group after the Florida high school shooting last week that left 17 dead.

Activists have threatened boycotts and flooded social media with comments criticizing companies that have deals with the NRA ranging from discount programs to a Visa credit card with NRA branding.

In response, multiple companies — including two airlines, six car rental companies, a bank and an insurance company — have cut ties.

The response by companies willing to end potentially lucrative business deals with the NRA is a major victory for anti-gun advocates, which include students who attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the Feb. 14 mass shooting took place. Celebrities have also taken up the cause, and the public outcry over the latest mass shooting seems likely to continue to shape the ongoing gun reform debate.

Delta and United are the latest companies to announce they will end business contracts with the NRA. The airlines had previously been criticized for offering NRA members discount flights to their annual convention.

ADVERTISEMENT

Gun reform advocates tend to zero in on the NRA after mass shootings, but the outcry since the Florida shooting has been led by fierce and popular voices in the form of student survivors.

Survivors of the Florida shooting have focused much of their attention on Republican lawmakers who have received contributions from the group.

The NRA sent its spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, to a CNN town hall to defend the organization to people directly affected by the tragedy. Loesch claimed no one there wanted to talk "solutions" and she was threatened by the crowd.

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, in an appearance this week at a major conservative conference, maintained the group's position that limiting guns as a reaction to violence is “completely ridiculous,” and advocated more school security instead. In tweets, the NRA has criticized law enforcement failures.

The NRA's response has not quelled the avalanche of blame being placed on the historically powerful gun lobby.

Over the last three days, as public pressure mounted and the media spotlight on companies with ties to the NRA grew, a number of companies began announcing they would end their business relationships with the gun organization.

First National Bank of Omaha announced on Thursday that it would not renew its contract with the NRA to issue NRA-branded credit cards to members. The card was branded as “the official credit card of the NRA.”

Enterprise Holdings — which operates three car rental brands — said it will end its contract with the NRA next month.

Cybersecurity giant Symantec announced on Friday that it would end its business relationship with the NRA. The company offered members a discount on anti-virus software for their computers.

On the same day, MetLife said it would end its home and auto insurance discounts for NRA members.

Hertz, Avis and Budget joined other car rental companies with discount programs with the NRA and announced they would also end their partnership with the group. Car pricing group TrueCar likewise ended its program that allowed NRA members to save on retail price of new and used cars.

The NRA struck back at corporations that have cut ties with the gun group, issuing a blistering statement Saturday ripping such companies, saying they "decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice."

"In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve," the NRA said in a statement.

"Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world." 

FedEx is one of the major companies still under pressure from advocates ranging from Marjory Stoneman Douglas students such as David Hogg to celebrities such as Wanda Sykes, Alyssa Milano, Debra Messing and "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

ThinkProgress, the news arm of the progressive think tank Center for American Progress, has been keeping a running tally of the companies it says are supporting the NRA in order to keep the pressure on.

As lawmakers continue to debate what caused last week's shooting and how to implement solutions, President TrumpDonald John TrumpAl Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' Trump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report MORE has directed the Department of Justice to draft regulation to ban bump stocks, devices that can make a semi-automatic rifle fire at speeds similar to an automatic rifle.

Bump stocks were the focus of blame after the Las Vegas mass shooting in October. After that, Walmart and the outdoor store Cabela’s took down bump stocks from their websites.

Both companies are now also under pressure for their relationship to guns.

On Twitter, there has also been pressure for Amazon to stop streaming the NRA’s online video channel. The hashtag #stopNRAmazon has been used to spread the message, which quickly drew support from a number of Hollywood stars.

As pressure continues to mount, many companies are reacting. But observers are also watching for a counter-reaction from NRA members and gun owners who might seek to boycott companies for turning their backs on the organization and its 5 million members.

Updated: 5:00 p.m.