Following the announcement by a few well-known companies that they were “severing” their relationships with the National Rifle Association (NRA), the New York Times wrote positively of the actions. In just the last few days, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Chubb Limited (insurance), MetLife, and Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise, Alamo, and National car-rental affiliates) have announced they would no longer offer discounts for their various services to NRA members. Also included in the list is First National Bank of Omaha, whose credit card was the official card of the NRA and which offered a $40 cash-back bonus, enough to pay for a membership in the organization.
The Times overstated the impact by calling the decisions a “boycott” of the NRA, adding, “Through an uncoordinated but simpatico collection of Twitter hashtags, retweeted lists, Facebook groups, online petitions and carefully orchestrated campaigns, the protest has pushed a major bank, several car rental companies, two airlines and other businesses to publicly cut ties with the N.R.A.”
Some companies were clearly posturing, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, which hasn’t sold semi-automatic rifles in any of its 800 stores since the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. But the president, Ed Stack, saw his opportunity to promote his anti-gun views on ABC News, telling the network that “We’re taking these guns out of all of our stores permanently.” What was missing is that his decision impacts only 35 stores in its Field & Stream chain.
What impact the so-called “boycott” of the NRA is likely to have is highly questionable. By the numbers, those posturing are an infinitesimally small percentage of the business community. A most generous estimate is that fewer than three dozen companies have cut benefits previously being offered to NRA members. But there are 22 million active businesses in the United States, most of whom aren’t joining the parade of naysayers. FedEx, for example, is keeping its discount program in place for NRA members.
But there are other numbers, too, that could come back and haunt those now distancing themselves from the NRA. For example, there are 126 million households in the United States, and four out of every 10 of them have at least one gun. The NRA itself claims to have five million dues-paying members, but when Pew Research did its poll last July, it learned that more than 14 million Americans say they belong to the group! The NRA considers that a compliment: “The simple fact is that our support runs much deeper than among our members alone. Gun control advocates know this to be true, and that’s why the NRA remains the most powerful political force in America.”
These numbers may also explain part of the reason why Washington is adamantly opposed to inflicting any more restrictions on the right guaranteed by the Second Amendment. On Tuesday, Congress said it would not raise the minimum age for gun buyers (as demanded by the president and anti-gunners), nor would it even consider expanding background checks as demanded by the Democrats in the House. Said Speaker Paul Ryan: “We shouldn’t be banning guns from law-abiding citizens. We should be focusing on making sure that citizens who should not get guns in the first place don’t get those guns.”
A few noisy anti-gun ideologues, some using the opportunity to posture for public-relations purposes, are only enjoying the attention because of the media’s anti-gun and anti-NRA agenda. The real impact is likely to be felt positively when voters turn out of office anti-gun politicians running for reelection in the fall. It’s also likely to result in an increase in membership in pro-Second Amendment groups including not only the NRA but also the Gun Owners of America, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the National Association of Gun Owners. It will also likely increase gun sales, especially those semi-automatic rifles excoriated by anti-gunners as somehow being responsible for the recent mass shootings in Florida, Texas, and Las Vegas.