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Delta: ‘We are not taking sides’ in gun debate

Delta: ‘We are not taking sides’ in gun debate
© Greg Nash

Delta Air Lines asserted Friday that it is not "taking sides" in the debate over gun control reform after its decision to no longer offer discounts for National Rifle Association (NRA) members, saying that it would review its discounts for "any group of a politically divisive nature."

In a memo to employees, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said that the company's decision was not made for "economic gain" and that by cutting ties with the gun rights group, Delta wanted to "remove" itself from the gun debate. A copy of the memo was obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"While Delta’s intent was to remain neutral, some elected officials in Georgia tied our decision to a pending jet fuel tax exemption, threatening to eliminate it unless we reversed course," he wrote.

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"Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale. We are in the process of a review to end group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature."

Delta joined several other companies in ending benefits and discounts for NRA members in recent weeks, following a deadly shooting last month at a South Florida high school that reignited the national debate over gun control.

"Our people and our customers have a wide range of views on how to increase safety in our schools and public places, and we are not taking sides," Bastain wrote.

Georgia lawmakers voted on Thursday to strip a sales tax exemption on jet fuel that is highly valued by the Atlanta-based Delta. The move appeared to be an act of retribution for Delta's decision to sever ties with the NRA. 

“I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA," Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R), who is running for governor this year, tweeted earlier this week.

Leaders in multiple other states have invited Delta to move its headquarters following the dustup.

A spokesperson for Delta told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that only 13 tickets have been sold under the group travel discount for the NRA. 

“Our people and our customers have a wide range of views on how to increase safety in our schools and public places, and we are not taking sides," Bastian wrote in the memo. "Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate."