(Adds MetLife and SimpliSafe ending NRA programs, second
By Barbara Goldberg and Gina Cherelus
NEW YORK, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Half a dozen U.S. companies
have cut ties with the National Rifle Association as gun safety
activists on Friday intensified calls for a boycott in the wake
of last week's Florida high school massacre.
The social media-fueled campaign has led a range of
corporations, from a major insurer to three car rental brands,
to sever relationships with the gun rights advocacy group.
Amazon.com Inc and other online streaming platforms
are also facing demands to drop the online video channel NRATV,
featuring programming produced by the group.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, founded after
20 first-graders were shot and killed at a school in Connecticut
in December 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
products. None of the companies immediately responded to
requests for comment on the letters.
"We have been just disgusted by NRATV since its beginning,"
Shannon Watts, founder of the Moms Demand Action group, told
Reuters. "It really propagates dangerous misinformation and
inflammatory rhetoric. It tries to pit Americans against one
another, all in an attempt to further their agenda of selling
The U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment protects the right
to bear arms. The NRA, which has long used campaign donations
and effective lobbying to hold outsized political influence,
argues that stricter gun control would erode individual rights.
The group has not commented on companies cutting ties.
The question of gun control, and the NRA's role in opposing
it, became the focus of national debate on Feb. 14, when Nikolas
Cruz, a 19-year-old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School in Parkland, Florida, returned there and killed 17
people, mostly students, with a legally purchased AR-15 rifle,
according to authorities.
TRENDING ON TWITTER
Nearly two dozen corporations nationwide offer incentives to
NRA members, according to ThinkProgress.com, a news site owned
by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Symantec Corp said on Friday it ended an NRA
discount program for its LifeLock identity theft product, while
Boston-based home security company SimpliSafe also said it
terminated its discount program for NRA members.
Insurer Chubb Ltd said on Friday it would stop
underwriting a NRA-branded insurance policy for gun owners that
covers legal costs in self-defense shootings. Insurance company
MetLife Inc also said it had ended an auto and home
incentive program for NRA members.
Those decisions came a day after three rental car brands
owned by Enterprise Holdings Inc said they were ending discount
programs for NRA members. First National Bank of Omaha also said
on Thursday it would not renew a contract with the organization
to issue an NRA-branded Visa card.
The hashtag #BoycottNRA was the top trending topic on
Twitter on Friday morning. The campaign is the latest effort by
activists to deploy social media and use economic pressure to
Similar drives helped convince Fox News to terminate
television host Bill O'Reilly, after sponsors dropped his show
in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, and the National
Football League bowed to improve its handling of domestic
violence accusations against players.
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.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has been endorsed by the
NRA, announced a proposal on Friday to increase restrictions on
buying guns and to strengthen school safety measures.
Shares of gun makers were broadly lower on Friday.
Approximately a dozen companies with marketing ties to the
NRA, including FedEx Corp and Hertz, which offer
discount programs, did not respond to requests for comment on
NRATV, which describes itself as "America's Most Patriotic
Team on a Mission to Take Back The Truth," features programming
that leans heavily on speeches by NRA chief executive Wayne
LaPierre and spokeswoman Dana Loesch.
An online campaign using the Twitter hashtag #StopNRAmazon
has also begun to pick up steam, applying pressure on Amazon CEO
Jeff Bezos to drop the channel. Many of those tweeting are in
the entertainment industry.
"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 Mayem Singer.
Moms Demand Action posted an online petition using the
"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 the
Moms Demand Action founder Watts, signaling the start of a
broader campaign. "Doing business with the NRA is clearly bad
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.
(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)
First Published: 2018-02-23 16:20:55
Updated 2018-02-23 22:25:45
© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.