Several companies cut ties with the NRA as public pressure grows

Several companies cut ties with the NRA as public pressure grows
National Rifle Assn. members have have access to special offers from partner companies, but some of those companies are backing away. (Seth Perlman / Associated Press)

U.S. companies are taking a closer look at investments, co-branding deals and other ties to the gun industry and its public face, the National Rifle Assn., after the latest school massacre.

Petitions are circulating online targeting companies that offer discounts to NRA members on its website. #BoycottNRA is trending on Twitter.


NRA members have access to special offers from partner companies on the group's website, including deals on life insurance and wine clubs. For a second consecutive day companies listed on the site have cut ties to the NRA as it aggressively resists calls for stricter gun control in the wake of the mass shooting last week at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

The insurance company MetLife Inc. announced Friday that it was ending its discount program with the NRA. So did software company Symantec Corp., which makes Norton Antivirus technology, and car rental company Hertz.

Insurance company Chubb Ltd. said Friday it is ending participation in the NRA's gun-owner insurance program, but it provided notice three months ago. The program that provided coverage for people involved in gun-related incidents or accidents had been under scrutiny by regulators over marketing issues.

Those defections arrived a day after the car rental company Enterprise Holdings, which also owns Alamo and National, said it was cutting off discounts for NRA members. First National Bank of Omaha, one of the nation's largest privately held banks, announced that it would not renew a Visa credit card co-branded with the NRA.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference that those advocating for stricter gun control are exploiting last week's deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

"Evil walks among us and God help us if we don't harden our schools and protect our kids," LaPierre said Thursday. "The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous."

President Trump has aligned himself with the NRA, suggesting some teachers could be armed so that they could fire on any attacker.

U.S. corporations are moving in the other direction.

On Friday, a large Wall Street money management firm said that it wants to engage with major weapons manufacturers about what comes next.

Blackrock Inc., which manages $6 trillion in assets, has become one of the largest stakeholders in gun manufacturers such as Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc. through indirect investments. The money is placed in index funds, so Blackrock cannot sell shares of individual companies within the index. Its fund clients invest in indexes that might contain companies like Ruger.

On Friday, spokesman Ed Sweeney said Blackrock will be "engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events."

Blackrock, through indirect investments, holds a 16.18% stake in Sturm Ruger, an 11.91% stake in Vista and a 10.5% stake in American Outdoor, according to the data firm FactSet.

Shares of gun companies mostly fell in trading Friday.