As the gun debate continues to rage in the United States, certain companies are taking aggressive action to keep from being caught up in a wave of rage that has people threatening to vote with their voice and their wallet. That, apparently, means trouble for the National Rifle Association (NRA), which is largely seen as the most public mouthpiece for the gun lobby and firearms manufacturers.
Unfortunately for the NRA, a lot of their public image comes courtesy of co-branding deals with multiple other companies. And, now, some of these companies are announcing very public splits from the NRA. The co-branding deals are generally passed along to members of the NRA as incentives to join or re-up in exchange for coupons, discounts, and special deals at various businesses offering everything from wine to insurance.
Now, there are petitions appearing on social media with lists of these partner companies and encouragement to boycott those that continue to “support” the NRA. Two of the most recent companies to cut ties with the NRA include insurer, MetLife, and Symantec Corp., which is most famous for its Norton Antivirus software.
The day before those brands announced they would no longer partner with the NRA, other brands made a similar decision. These companies included Enterprise, the rental car company, and First National Bank of Omaha, which had sponsored an NRA-branded Visa credit card.
These defections motivated NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, understood to the be the public face of the organization, to speak out, but not in the way some people thought he might. In the wake of the Parkland school massacre, LaPierre used his spotlight at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference to chastise people for calling for stricter gun laws:
“Evil walks among us, and God help us if we don’t harden our schools and protect our kids… The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous.”
Many applauded his comments, but they appear to be at odds with what’s happening in corporate America and on Wall Street. Blackrock Inc, which is one of the largest stakeholders in Sturm Ruger, Vista Outdoor, and American Outdoor Brands, said it plans to “engage with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events…”
Some are saying these comments also alluded to the struggles gun brands like Ruger and Remington have had in recent months. Ruger sales dropped sharply in 2017, and Remington recently announced it may consider bankruptcy protection.
As this story unfolds, it appears more and more likely that the gun industry and every organization or business even tangentially connected with it will be called on the carpet and asked to take a side.