Corporate partners cut cord with NRA as
gun control debate rages
Send a link to a friend
[February 24, 2018]
By Barbara Goldberg and Gina Cherelus
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The fallout over last
week's shooting rampage at a Florida high school started to take its
toll on the National Rifle Association's roster of corporate partners on
Friday as a half dozen companies severed marketing ties with the gun
The exodus of corporate names, ranging from a major insurer to car
rental brands and a household moving company, occurred after the NRA
launched a counter-offensive against a student-led campaign for tighter
U.S. gun ownership laws.
At the same time, gun control activists are stepping up pressure on
Amazon.com Inc and other online streaming platforms to drop the online
video channel NRATV, featuring gun-friendly programming produced by the
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, founded after 20
first-graders were shot and killed at a Connecticut school in 2012, sent
letters to Apple Inc, AT&T Inc, Amazon, Alphabet Inc's Google and Roku
Inc on Friday, asking them to drop NRATV from their platforms.
"We have been just disgusted by NRATV since its beginning," Shannon
Watts, founder of the Moms Demand Action group, told Reuters. "It tries
to pit Americans against one another, all in an attempt to further their
agenda of selling guns."
AT&T said it does not carry NRATV. None of the other companies
immediately responded to requests for comment.
The issue of gun control, and the NRA's role in opposing it, became the
focus of renewed national debate on Feb. 14, when a former student
killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland,
Florida, with an AR-15 assault rifle he had purchased legally.
The U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment protects the right of Americans
to bear arms. The NRA, which has long used campaign donations and
effective lobbying to command political influence, argues that stricter
gun control would erode individual rights. The group has not commented
on companies cutting ties.
Angry student survivors of the shooting have confronted politicians from
state lawmakers to U.S. President Donald Trump himself, demanding
stricter gun control laws.
In response, the NRA and Trump have suggested arming teachers who have
received training to deter attackers, a proposal that has been met with
skepticism by teachers unions and gun violence experts.
TRENDING ON TWITTER
Before the corporate defections, nearly two dozen companies nationwide
had offered incentives to NRA members, according to ThinkProgress.com, a
news site owned by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
The attrition started late Thursday when three rental car brands owned
by Enterprise Holdings Inc said they were ending discount programs, and
First National Bank of Omaha said it would not renew the NRA's contract
to issue a co-branded Visa card.
By Friday, the list of defectors expanded to include Symantec Corp,
which ended an discount program for its LifeLock identity theft product.
Home security company SimpliSafe and Hertz Corp also terminated discount
Chubb Ltd said it would stop underwriting a NRA-branded insurance policy
for gun owners that covers legal costs in self-defense shootings.
Another insurer, MetLife Inc, also said it had ended an auto and home
incentive program for NRA members. And North American Van Lines said it
was scrapping its an affiliate relationship with the NRA.
David Hogg, one of the student survivors of last week's attack who
launched the #NeverAgain anti-gun violence movement, said the students
would target any company with ties to the NRA, in addition to lawmakers
who accept donations.
[to top of second column]
Bob Ossler, chaplain with the Cape Coral volunteer fire department,
places seventeen crosses for the victims of yesterday's shooting at
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on a fence a short distance
from the school in Parkland, Florida, February 15, 2018.
About a dozen other companies with marketing ties to the NRA,
including FedEx Corp and Hertz, which offer discount programs, did
not respond to requests for comment.
SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS
Activists have also called on public pension funds to divest from
gun maker stocks, which were broadly lower on Friday.
Meanwhile, an online campaign using the Twitter hashtag
#StopNRAmazon picked up steam, putting pressure on Amazon CEO Jeff
Bezos to drop the channel. Many of those tweeting are in the
"Ironic how the @NRA likes to point a finger at what kids watch on
TV ... while they spew vile rhetoric on NRAtv, streamed on @Amazon
and aimed solely at boosting gun sales," wrote screenwriter Randi
Moms Demand Action, which sent the letters to the streaming
platform, also posted an online petition using the hashtag
"To be affiliated with them, whether you are a company or a
lawmaker, it is not going to pay off in the long run," said Watts,
the group's founder, signaling the start of a broader campaign.
"Doing business with the NRA is clearly bad business."
The target of its ire is NRATV, which describes itself as "America's
Most Patriotic Team on a Mission to Take Back The Truth." The
channel features programming that leans heavily on speeches by NRA
chief executive Wayne LaPierre and spokeswoman Dana Loesch.
Yet another campaign, using the hashtag #BoycottNRA, was the top
trending topic on Twitter on Friday morning.
The push is the latest effort by social activists to use social
media to apply economic pressure to force change.
Last April, Fox News parted ways with television host Bill O'Reilly
when sponsors started to drop his show in the wake of sexual
harassment allegations against him.
Similarly the National Football League announced a tougher policy on
handling domestic violence accusations against players when its
marketing partners applied pressure for changes.
(This version of the story corrects first paragraph to say last
week's rampage, not this week's)
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Gina Cherelus in New York;
Additional reporting by Suzanne Barlyn in New York, Andrew Hay in
Taos, New Mexico, and Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Writing by
Joseph Ax; Editing by Frank McGurty and Grant McCool)
[© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2018 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.