Having an impact

3/1/2018, 2:29 a.m.

The latest proof that the activism of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is having an impact:

More than a dozen companies have announced during recent days that they are cutting ties to the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers in the wake of the bloody Valentine’s Day mass shooting at the Florida school that left 17 dead and injured many more.

The list has grown since NRA executive director Wayne LaPierre’s speech last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, in which he called any effort toward gun control a move to “make you less free.” He also said he supports President Trump’s harrowing notion to arm teachers with concealed weapons.

It’s about time the nation wakes up to the fact that the NRA — with its millions of dollars in contributions to state and federal lawmakers — has been a major obstacle to securing even basic gun control measures, such as universal background checks for gun purchases and banning bump stocks used to turn semiautomatic weapons into automatic killing machines.

The passion and protests by the Florida students who were present when the massacre took place is starting to move mountains and push the country toward long-needed tougher gun laws. Add to that the growing voices of adults across the nation who are demanding change for the safety of their children. 

Other activists continue to campaign for bans on semiautomatic weapons, like the ones used in the Florida school shooting and the October massacre outside a Las Vegas hotel, to pressuring public pension funds to sell their holdings in companies that manufacture or distribute guns.

A spokesperson for First National Bank of Omaha, which announced it will not renew a contract with the NRA to issue an NRA-branded VISA card, said “customer feedback” caused the bank to review its relationship with the NRA. 

Other big businesses said they will stop offering perks and discounts on their products and services to the NRA’s 5 million members. The businesses include Delta and United airlines; Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, National and Alamo rental car companies; Best Western Hotels & Resorts and Wyndham hotels; North American Van Lines Inc.; MetLife Inc., which offered auto and home insurance incentive programs for NRA members; and Chubb Ltd, which underwrites an NRA-branded insurance policy for gun owners.

On Wednesday, Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. announced that its retail shops will no longer offer assault-style weapons and will not sell guns to anyone under 21.

Many NRA supporters are threatening to boycott the companies that are taking this bold stand. But others say that once the various discounts are gone, there’s little benefit to being an NRA member. 

NRA officials have called the walkout by its corporate partners a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

We call it an audacious move by companies to send a strong and resolute message that the senseless bloodshed and gun violence plaguing this nation must stop, and that spineless lawmakers must act now to strengthen gun laws to protect the children and people of this nation, even if it means telling the NRA and its simple-minded supporters to step aside.

We must keep the pressure on — from the young protesters in Florida and across the nation to the longtime activists as well as the adults who are newly entering the fray.

Change is difficult, and people and organizations like the NRA will feel threatened. But for the safety of our children and the betterment of our communities, it is up to us to continue to push for stronger laws.