NRA backlash as companies end discounts for members after Florida school shootings

'Customer feedback' after the Florida shooting appeared to motivate these companies to end relationships with the NRA

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Friday 23 February 2018 17:48
The booth of National Rifle Association
The booth of National Rifle Association

Major car hire companies have ended their discount programme for members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) as have two financial institutions.

The change in policy was announced by Enterprise, which includes the Alamo and National brands, and will take effect 26 March, the company confirmed to The Independent.

The move appeared to be in response to the recent mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida during which 14 children and three adults were killed by a gunman using an AR-15 assault-style weapon.

All three brands took to Twitter with the same post and the Enterprise account had interacted with Twitter users who had called the company out publicly.

The car hire discount had been available to any NRA member who had paid the organisation’s $40 annual fee and were just three of the 22 companies offering a special price for the powerful lobbying group in Washington.

In the wake of the tragedy, surviving students have been constantly and passionately advocating for an assault weapons ban and gun control reform through media appearances, tweets at politicians taking money from the NRA, lie-ins, marches, and a visit to the White House.

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Calls for companies that associate with the NRA grew louder as the group’s President Wayne LaPierre said that gun control advocates, like the Parkland teenaged survivors, “hate freedom” at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on 22 February.

US President has also been advocating for arming teachers with guns but did not discuss imposing a ban on assault-style weapons like the AR-15.

The car hire companies’ decision comes just after the First National Bank of Omaha, which decided to stop issuing the NRA-branded Visa credit or debit card.

The bank had been doing so for a decade, but “customer feedback” prompted them to ditch the card, according to a Twitter announcement.

Several customers had taken to social media threatening to close their accounts if the bank’s endorsement continued.

Also responding to client concerns, the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock Inc has also decided to speak with weapons manufacturers and distributors like Sturm Ruger & Company Inc and American Outdoor Brands Corp.

BlackRock’s clients have responded in a way they have not to previous mass shootings. “We are working with clients who want to exclude from their portfolios weapons manufacturers or other companies that don’t align with their values,” the company’s statement sent to The Independent read.

BlackRock explained that it wants to “to understand their response” to the Parkland shooting.

Divestment, however, is not a possibility because of the way indices are set up.

“Given our inability to sell shares of a company in an index, even if we disagree with management, we focus on engaging with the company and understanding how they are responding to society’s expectations of them,” the statement read.

The companies have several options with how to deal with the issue. They could have no response to the criticism after the Parkland shooting. A decision could be made to divest from the assault-style AR-15, labeled as "the most popular rifle in America" by NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker. Or, the companies could wade into the debate on gun control reform by discussing age restrictions or stronger background checks akin to what Mr Trump has even advocated.

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