One By One, Companies Cut Ties With The NRA
Friday, February 23, 2018
As a groundswell grows against the National Rifle Association in the aftermath of last week's school massacre in Parkland, Fla., several businesses say they are ending their partnerships with the gun advocacy group.
The brands — ranging from insurance companies to rental cars — all announced their decisions on Twitter, many in direct response to tweets demanding change coalesced under the trending hashtag #boycottNRA.
On Friday, Symantec, the cybersecurity company, announced via Twitter it has halted its NRA discount program.
About an hour later, the insurance company MetLife followed suit, tweeting, "We value all our customers but have decided to end our discount program with the NRA."
A day earlier, First National Bank of Omaha announced via tweet that it "will not renew its contract with the National Rifle Association to issue the NRA Visa Card." It was responding to a tweet saying "Please END your relationship with the @NRA. #NRABloodOnYourHands." The bank said "customer feedback" spurred it to review its relationship with the NRA.
Later Thursday, Enterprise Holdings, which owns and operates car rental agencies Alamo, Enterprise and National, announced via tweets from each brand's account that by March 26 it would sever its NRA member discount program.
Company spokespeople would not elaborate on the announcements.
The NRA did not respond to an NPR request for comment.
On its website the NRA says, "It pays to be a member! Get back hundreds of dollars more than you pay in dues" and offers "benefits" running the gamut from home and auto insurance to prescription drug discounts to the "Official Wine Club of the NRA."
On Tuesday, ThinkProgress, a liberal-leaning think tank, published a list of some two dozen "corporate partners" that offer incentives to NRA members. ThinkProgess says it asked all of the corporations "whether they plan to continue their relationships with the gun lobby. Four of those companies have ended their relationship with the NRA since this list was initially published."
Under car rental discounts, Hertz, Avis and Budget are still listed as "NRA partners."
Social media users have taken to Twitter in an effort to name and shame those companies and others for their NRA affiliation.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre addressed the annual Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday and spoke of "the breakneck speed for gun control laws," following the Florida shooting. "As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain," he said.
Proponents of the NRA have also used the hashtag #BoycottNRA to express support for the group.
On Friday, Reuters reported Chubb would no longer underwrite NRA insurance for gun owners. A spokesperson told NPR that decision had been made some time ago. "Three months ago, Chubb provided notice of our intent to discontinue participation in the NRA Carry Guard insurance program under the terms of our contract," Chubb said in a statement.
Also Friday, Wyndham Worldwide, parent company of major hotel brands including Travelodge, Howard Johnson, Ramada and Days Inn, tweeted that it "is no longer affiliated with the NRA."
ThinkProgress reports Wyndham Worldwide stopped offering NRA discounts following a pressure campaign after the Sandy Hook shooting. "We ended our relationship with the NRA late last year," a spokesperson told NPR.
Meanwhile, some teachers in Florida were unsettled to learn earlier this week that the retirement funds to which they've been contributing invest in the gun company that produced the weapon used in the Parkland attack. Bloomberg News reports the Florida Retirement System Pension Plan held more than 41,000 shares in American Outdoor Brands Co. (formerly Smith & Wesson), maker of the semi-automatic AR-15 used by the shooter.
The president of the Florida teachers union has called for the fund to divest itself of shares. But the Washington Post reports that a spokesman with the state pension fund said that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
On Wednesday, at a CNN town hall, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio broke with an NRA stance when he announced he would support raising the age from 18 to 21 for "buying a rifle." He was responding to a question from student survivor Cameron Kasky. However, during the same exchange, Rubio refused to say he would renounce NRA donations. (Rubio has earned the NRA's highest rating, A+.)
Stoneman Douglas survivors have also mobilized students from across the country, who have been protesting, staging school walkouts and calling on legislators to act.
"March for Our Lives," a national rally, is planned in Washington, D.C., on March 24.
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