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Companies that have cut ties with the NRA

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NEW YORK — The National Rifle Association (NRA) is facing a corporate backlash as companies take a closer look at their investments, co-branding deals and other ties to the gun industry following the latest school massacre. A handful of companies have ended discount programs with the NRA as the group aggressively resists calls for stricter gun control after a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida high school last week.

The moves come as petitions circulated online targeting companies offering discounts to NRA members on its website. #BoycottNRA was trending on Twitter.

Members of the NRA have access to special offers from partner companies on its website, ranging from life insurance to wine clubs. But the insurance company MetLife Inc. discontinued its discount program with the NRA on Friday. Car rental company Hertz and Symantec Corp., the software company that makes Norton Antivirus technology, did the same.

“We have notified the NRA that we are ending the NRA’s rental car discount program with Hertz,” the company tweeted Friday.

In a statement, Bank of America said it would examine its relationships with gunmakers who manufacture “assault weapons for non-military use.”

“We are joining other companies in our industry to examine what we can do to help end the tragedy of mass shootings, and an immediate step we’re taking is to engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for non-military use to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility,” the statement said. 

Here is a list of some of the companies that have cut ties or distanced themselves from the NRA:

  • First National Bank of Omaha: The bank announced that it would not renew a co-branded Visa credit-card with the NRA. 
  • The Hertz Corp.: The rental car company ended its discount program for NRA members. 
  • MetLife Inc.: The insurer terminated discounts that had been offered to NRA members on the NRA website 
  • Enterprise Holdings Inc.: The car rental company that also owns Alamo and National cut off discounts for NRA members. 
  • Symantec Corp.: The software company that makes Norton Antivirus technology ended its discount program with the NRA. 
  • Chubb Ltd.: The insurer announced it was ending participation in the NRA’s gun-owner insurance program, though it provided notice three months ago. 
  • Best Western: The hotel chain told multiple social media users that it was no longer affiliated with the NRA, though it did not say when that decision was made. 
  • Wyndham Hotels: The hotel chain told social media users it is no longer affiliated with the NRA without specifying when that decision was made. 
  • United Airlines: United said in a tweet Saturday it is “is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website.”
  • Delta: “Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program,” the company tweeted Saturday. “We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website.”
  • Avis and Budget Rental Car: The companies said they will no longer provide NRA member discounts, effective March 26.
  • TrueCar: The automotive pricing website said on Twitter that it would end its relationship with the NRA on February 28.

In a statement Saturday, the NRA condemned companies who severed ties with the organization.

“Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community.  We are men and women who represent every American ethnic group, every one of the world’s religions and every form of political commitment,” it said Saturday.

It continued, “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.”

The swiftness of the corporate reaction against the NRA has differed from that of past shootings, including the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that claimed 26 lives and the killing of 58 people in Las Vegas last fall, said Bob Spitzer, a political scientist at SUNY Cortland and a scholar on gun politics. Spitzer said the reaction was likely a reaction to the student mobilization that followed the Florida shooting, but he said it was too soon tell how significantly it will sway the country’s wider gun debate 

“If this is as far as it goes, it probably won’t have any measurable effect. If other companies continue to (cut ties) it can start to have an adverse public relations effect,” Spitzer said. “Usually what happens is that the storm passes, and the NRA counts on that.”

Spitzer noted that it was not the first time big business has been pulled into the gun debate. In 2014, Chipotle asked customers not to bring firearms into its stores after gun-rights advocates brought military-style rifles into one of its Texas restaurants. A year earlier, Starbucks Corp. made a similar statement after the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting.

Larry Hutcher, an attorney who specializes in commercial law and litigation, said companies are reacting to a perception that public opinion is shifting on gun regulation. Polls show growing support for gun control measures. A CBS News poll that found nearly two-thirds of Americans support stricter laws on gun sales, including an increasing number of Republicans.

“It makes economic sense to get on the side of the majority of Americans,” said Hutcher, co-managing partner of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP.

Earlier this week, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said those advocating for stricter gun control are exploiting the Florida shooting

“We share a goal of safe schools, safe neighborhoods and a safe country,” LaPierre said. “As usual the opportunist wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain. Saul Alinsky would have been proud. The break back speed of calls for more gun control laws and the breathless national media eager to smear the NRA.”  

President Trump has aligned himself with the NRA, suggesting some teachers could be armed so that they could fire on any attacker. However, Mr. Trump has also called for raising the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles, a move the NRA opposes. 

On Friday, a large Wall Street money management firm said that it wanted to engage with major weapons manufacturers about what comes next.

Blackrock Inc., which manages $6 trillion in assets, has become one of the largest stakeholders gun manufacturers like Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc. through indirect investments. The money is placed in index funds, so Blackrock cannot sell shares of individual companies within the index. Its fund clients invest in indexes that might contain companies like Ruger.

On Friday, spokesman Ed Sweeney said Blackrock will be “engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”

Blackrock, through indirect investments, holds a 16.18 percent stake in Sturm Ruger, an 11.91 percent stake in Vista, and a 10.5 percent stake in American Outdoor, according to the data firm FactSet.

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