#BoycottNRA: Could Brand Backlash Be the Gun Lobby's Downfall?

Consumers are calling out brands that do business with the NRA. 

A group of people at the #BoycorrNRA protest
Flickr / joshlopezphoto

The #BoycottNRA movement that’s been gaining steam on social media resulted in some significant wins this week. Enterprise Holdings Inc., which runs cars rental companies Enterprise, Alamo, and National, and First National Bank of Omaha announced the ending of their partnerships with the NRA, signaling a new phase in the movement for gun control since the Parkland, Florida shooting.

In addition to discounts on car rentals and the option to apply for the official visa credit card offered by First National, a $40 annual NRA membership includes a number of benefits for members — and a marketing opportunity for participating companies. These include fellow car rental companies Avis, Budget, and Hertz; TrueCar, a car buying service; moving companies Allied Van Lines and North American Van Lines; and MetLife insurance, among others. Additionally, the NRA Business Alliance offers its members additional perks, like discounts at FedEx. ThinkProgress has the full list of companies.

See also: Why Americans Buy Guns After Mass Shootings, According to Psychology

On Thursday, First National Bank became the first to sever ties with the NRA, saying on Twitter: “Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA. As a result, First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract with the National Rifle Association to issue the NRA Visa Card.”

A few hours later, Enterprise followed suit, also on Twitter, saying, “All three of our brands have ended the discount for NRA members.”

But it’s not just companies that directly market to NRA members through membership perks that are connected to the gun lobby. Many other American businesses also benefit, directly or indirectly, from the gun industry.

For example, Avon and Staples. Both have received significant investments from the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management — which has also invested heavily in firearms small businesses.

Bicyclist and blogger Aaron Naperstek took to Twitter on Tuesday to point out some of the connections to the gun industry that some popular biking and outdoor brands have. Popular CamelBak water bottles; Camp Chef outdoor cooking stoves; Bell, Gyr, and Razkulls bike brands are just some of the companies that belong to Vista Outdoors, a holding company that also owns gun and ammunition brands like Savage Arms, BLACKHAWK!, Federal Premium Ammunition, and Bushnell.

Vista Outdoors derives an estimated 40 percent of its business from guns and ammunition, according to analysis by CNN Money. One of its brands, Savage Arms, makes an AR-15-style assault rifle, and it’s also the seventh largest gun maker in America.

After Naparstek called out the brands, some bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts responded by suggesting that they would shop elsewhere. With more and more consumers chiming in, the #BoycottNRA hashtag has gained more momentum, and it’s leading to corporate action.

While it’s still unclear to what extent consumer boycotts alone can actually hurt the businesses that they are targeting, it’s worth noting that corporate boycotts have become an increasingly common — and effective — influencer in public policy.

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