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NRA, Florida face backlash after Valentine’s Day school massacre

© AFP file picture | Gun-control activists participate in a rally outside the headquarters of National Rifle Association July 14, 2017 in Fairfax, Virginia

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2018-02-25

The NRA, and now the State of Florida, faced a growing backlash Saturday as companies cut ties to the gun industry following the latest school massacre, as student survivors called for tourism boycotts until gun control measures are enacted.

A growing number of large companies have announced they are cutting or reducing ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA), whose members have enjoyed access to special offers from partner companies on its website, ranging from life insurance to wine clubs.

The latest companies to end their ties with the NRA were Delta and United Airlines, two of the three largest US-based airlines.

Delta and United said on Saturday they will no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings, and both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from its website.

Seventeen people were killed in the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a 19-year-old former student entered a freshman building and began firing an AR 15 assault-style rifle.

In the aftermath of the massacre, insurance group MetLife Inc. discontinued its discount program with the NRA. Car rental company Hertz and Symantec Corp., the software company that makes Norton Antivirus technology, did the same, and First National Bank of Omaha said it will not renew a co-branded credit card it has with the group.

Other companies, including Wyndham Hotels and Best Western hotels, have let social media users know they are no longer affiliated with the NRA.

Most of these companies do promotional tie-ins with groups to spur customer loyalty to NRA members, and do not receive money directly from the group.

The moves have come as petitions circulated online targeting companies offering discounts to NRA members on its website. #BoycottNRA was trending on Twitter.

In an email Saturday, the NRA called the companies’ actions “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice” and said the loss of corporate discounts and other perks “will neither scare nor distract” NRA members.

“In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognise that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve,” the NRA statement said.

Tourists turn their backs

The State of Florida was also facing a potential boycott and backlash. One teen survivor of the Florida school shooting took to Twitter, urging tourists to stay away from the state during spring break.

“Let’s make a deal,” David Hogg, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student who has been a major player in the #neveragain movement, tweeted. “DO NOT come to Florida for spring break unless gun legislation is passed.”

Wendy Glaab, 60, of Fonthill, Ontario, Canada, was among the first to respond. “I like many Canadians travel to Florida from time to time to escape our winter. I can’t speak for others but I will not be returning until meaningful gun control legislation is in place.”

The swiftness of the corporate reaction against the NRA has differed from that of past shootings, including the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that claimed 26 lives and the killing of 58 people in Las Vegas last fall, said Bob Spitzer, a political scientist at SUNY Cortland and a scholar on gun politics. Spitzer said the reaction was likely a reaction to the student mobilisation that followed the Florida shooting, but he said it was too soon tell how significantly it will sway the country’s wider gun debate.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference that those advocating for stricter gun control are exploiting the Florida shooting.

President Donald Trump has aligned himself with the NRA, suggesting some teachers could be armed so that they could fire on any attacker. However, Trump has also called for raising the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles, a move the NRA opposes.

Police also under fire

Corporate ties to the NRA aren’t the only elements undergoing scrutiny. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he’s investigating claims that some Coral Springs police officers saw several deputies outside the building after the shooting began.

On Thursday, Scot Peterson, the school’s resource officer, resigned under fire from the Broward Sheriff’s Office for failing to enter the building. The sheriff told news outlets he will investigate the claims that other deputies didn’t enter the building.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2018-02-25

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