The horrific shooting high school in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead has revived the gun-control debate amongst supporters and detractors alike. In recent weeks, many big businesses, from insurance companies to car-rental firms to banks have taken concrete steps to cut all ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA), the American non-profit organization that advocates for gun rights. Here are some of the big names who have taken this historic stance.
First National Bank of Omaha was among the first businesses to cancel special discounts to almost five million NRA members. The bank is one of America’s 15 largest credit card issuers, and its NRA-branded cards had offered perks like 5% cash back on gas and sporting goods purchases, as well as $40 statement credits for new customers. Bank officials tweeted that their decision was based on customer feedback about the association between the two institutions.
This is not the first time that a shooting in the US has sparked animosity against the NRA. Hospitality chains Wyndham Hotels and Best Western similarly ended their discount programs for NRA members, though neither franchise has attributed their respective decisions to the Parkland shooting specifically.
Major airlines followed First National Bank’s example this year, with Delta Air Lines taking swift action, mentioning on Twitter that it was terminating its contract with the NRA for discounted rates through its group travel program. United Airlines followed suit in a couple of hours, tweeting that the airline had told 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.”
Major car-rental services and moving-van companies like North American Van Lines, Hertz, Avis Budget Group, Alamo, Enterprise, and National all ended their NRA partnerships, which offered discounted rates to NRA-affiliated customers.
Insurance companies took a similar route, with MetLife terminating its NRA discount program, and Chubb ending its partnership on an insurance program called the “NRA Carry Guard”, which provided coverage for gun owners facing legal or other costs for self-defense shootings. Benefits of this program included payments for bail, criminal defense legal retainer fees, lawful firearm replacement, compensation while in court, psychological support, and cleanup costs for any covered claim resulting from the use of a legally possessed firearm, including an act of self-defense.
There have been other major companies, such as FedEx, Apple, Amazon, and Google, that have refused to end their relationships with the NRA, despite mounting pressure to do so.
In the past, the gun-lobbyist organization has successfully weathered backlash and deterred legislative attempts to restrict gun use following mass shootings, such as the public outcry and anguish that followed the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook. For its part, the NRA has repeatedly pointed at other factors, such the mental-health system, lax school security, and the failure of the FBI to pre-emptively identify potential shooters as the reasons for these mass killings.
The business aspect of these boycotts is not lost on experts. NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway told NBC News that the above-mentioned companies are making a strategic business move to protect their brand and their interests.
“The most valuable person in world of consumer business is an 18-year-old. They have influence over what the rest of us believe is ‘cool’ and have a lifetime of discretionary spending ahead of them,” Galloway explained. “Their recent galvanization against the issue has made the NRA very uncool and an easy target for firms wanting to say to the most important cohort ‘Hey, we get it, and are with you.’”
Baisakhi Roy | Contributing Writer