Wednesday 15 August 2018

NRA faces corporate backlash after latest US school shooting

President Donald Trump has aligned himself with the NRA, suggesting some teachers could be armed so that they could fire on any attacker.

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

By Damian Troise and Alexandra Olson, Associated Press

The National Rifle Association is facing a corporate backlash as companies take a closer look at their ties to the gun industry following the latest school massacre.

A number of companies have ended discount programmes 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 came 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 discontinued its discount programme with the NRA on Friday.

Car rental company Hertz and Symantec, 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.

Insurer Chubb said it is ending participation in the NRA’s gun-owner insurance programme, but it provided notice three months ago. The programme that provided coverage for people involved in gun-related incidents or accidents had been under scrutiny by regulators over marketing issues.

Those defections arrived after car rental company Enterprise Holdings, which also owns Alamo and National, said it was cutting off discounts for NRA members.

First National Bank of Omaha, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks, announced that it would not renew a co-branded Visa credit-card with the NRA.

Other companies, including Wyndham Hotels and Best Western hotels, have let social media users know they are no longer affiliated with the NRA, though they did not make clear when the partnerships ended.

Delta and United Airlines both said on Saturday they will no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings.

And both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from its NRA website.

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.

Mr Spitzer said the reaction was likely to be a reaction to the student mobilisation 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,” Mr Spitzer said.

“Usually what happens is that the storm passes, and the NRA counts on that.”

Mr 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 made a similar statement after the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting.

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference that those advocating for stricter gun control are exploiting the Florida shooting.

President Donald 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.

Press Association

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