Several major companies have severed ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the wake of a school shooting in Florida and an intense social media movement calling for a boycott of the organization. The NRA has condemned the exodus of businesses while conservatives have called for their own counter-boycotts.
Following a mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead, several surviving students have swiftly organized a social media movement to pressure lawmakers into supporting stricter gun regulations.
“The simple fact is that the laws of this beloved country allowed for the deranged gunman to purchase a gun legally,” said Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior Lorenzo Prado, according to USA Today.
The students have accused the NRA of lobbying lawmakers to suppress gun control legislation and have called for boycotts on businesses that associate with the organization. So far the boycott appears to be effective.
As of Feb. 26, over a dozen companies that provided benefits to NRA membership have severed cut ties with the organization, the majority curtailing discount programs.
These businesses include The First National Bank of Omaha, Enterprise subsidiaries, Symantec, Hertz, MetLife, SimpliSafe, Avis Budget group subsidiaries, Sirva, TrueCar, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Paramount RX and Starkey, according to CNN Money.
On Feb. 24, the NRA released a statement blasting the companies, asserting that the corporations “have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.
“In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve,” the statement read, according to CBS46.
The organization added “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.”
Political editor Guy Benson of the conservative website Town Hall took to Twitter to accuse United Airlines of holding a double standard for what associations were politically divisive.
“You’ve now severed ties w/ the NRA at the urging of an online mob, yet you maintain ties with Planned Parenthood, the most prolific ender of children’s lives in America, by far,” Benson tweeted out. “Are you actively trying to chase away my business?”
GOP Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of Georgia even threatened political repercussions to corporations that cut ties with the NRA.
“I will kill any tax legislation that benefits [Delta Airlines] unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with [NRA],” Cagle tweeted out. “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”
On Axios CEO Jim VandeHei weighed in on why companies were responding to social media campaigns to boycott the NRA.
I think there are two things that are hitting a company simultaneously that are really reshaping our relationship with the companies and the companies that we work for,” VandeHei told CBS News. “One is social media. People can instantly put pressure on companies to make big decisions about their products.
“Two is … where the millennial workforce has a different expectation of us as employers, they expect you to take a stand, they expect you to have opinions; they expect you to stand for something bigger than just profit,” VandeHei continued. “And companies are feeling this. … This never would have happened five or ten years ago.”
Professor of corporate leadership William Klepper of Columbia Business School observed that gun control activists were more likely to focus their activism on the NRA’s business ties because government is currently dominated by GOP lawmakers and consequently less receptive to firearm legislation.
“Politicians assume they can wait out the outrage, but national companies have to respond to the immediacy of demand,” Klepper told The Atlantic.