US companies drop gun lobby after Florida shooting
AFP – US airlines Delta and United on Saturday joined the ever-expanding list of companies cutting ties with the National Rifle Association, the country’s powerful gun lobby, in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Florida.
The "#BoycottNRA" hashtag has gained traction on Twitter since the Valentine Day’s rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left 14 students and three staff dead.
"Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program," Delta said in a statement.
"We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website."
United chimed in with a similar message, also discontinuing discounted rates for NRA members attending the group’s annual meeting.
The two airlines join several other companies in retracting benefits for the NRA and its members, including rental car companies Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Hertz, First National Bank of Omaha and insurance providers Chubb and MetLife.
"Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA," First National Bank of Omaha said.
Allied Van Lines and North American Van Lines, along with security company Symantec, have also severed ties.
Allied Van Lines said it "no longer has an affiliate relationship with the NRA effective immediately."
None of the companies explicitly linked their statements to the mass shooting in Florida, but their decisions come as activists are pushing for stronger gun controls in the United States.
Bank of America said it would immediately "engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for nonmilitary use to understand what they can contribute" to helping end mass shootings.
A 19-year-old former student at the Parkland school, Nikolas Cruz, used an assault-style rifle to carry out the February 14 shooting.
The incident has once again shone the spotlight on the NRA, which staunchly opposes any limits to the right to bear arms enshrined in the US Constitution.
On Thursday, National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre slammed what he called "the shameful politicization of tragedy," and called for Americans to be the first line of defense — meaning arming teachers.
That idea has been embraced by President Donald Trump, who again pushed his controversial plan to arm "firearms adept" teachers with "annual training" to help protect the nation’s schools.
"Shootings will not happen again – a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States," Trump tweeted.