Metlife, Hertz, Delta, United and a host of other companies are severing their ties with the NRA its refusal to support another assault weapons ban following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. But in an unprecedented step first reported by Axios, Bank of America said in a statement that it's reexamining relationships with clients who make AR-15s - the weapon that was used by shooter Nikolas Cruz to murder 16 of his teenage classmates and one adult.
Companies have been bowing to social-media pressure and pulling out of their business partnerships - a trend that started when the First National Bank of Omaha tweeted that it would not be renewing its contract to produce NRA-branded Visa cards. Social media users like Joe Scarborough have been researching which companies have partnerships with the NRA, then tweeting their disapproval, forcing the companies to remove details of their relationship from their websites.
Hey @FedEx, I’ve been a fan of your company from the start. Please do the right thing and stop supporting an organization that attacks America’s heroes who protect us from terror attacks. Please support our law enforcement officers so we can keep supporting you. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) February 24, 2018
As the Wall Street Journal reports, insurance giants Chubb Ltd. and Metlife, cybersecurity company Symantec Corp. and Enterprise Holdings - owner of the Alamo and National car-rental chains - have said publicly that they will end their partnerships with the NRA.
Companies are reacting partly in response to a social-media movement to pressure or boycott entities with NRA ties, energized by the emotional calls for gun-control action from survivors of the shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and students around the country. On Friday, the hashtag “#BoycottNRA” was among the top trends on Twitter nationally.
Many of the companies named above tweeted that they would be ending their business relationships with the NRA...
We have notified the NRA that we are ending the NRA’s rental car discount program with Hertz.— Hertz (@Hertz) February 23, 2018
United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website.— United Airlines (@united) February 24, 2018
Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website.— Delta (@Delta) February 24, 2018
We value all our customers but have decided to end our discount program with the NRA.— MetLife (@MetLife) February 23, 2018
In the aftermath of the shooting, some gun-control advocates have pushed for financial institutions and credit card companies to take action independent of the Republican-controlled Congress, which has repeatedly balked on passing gun control in the wake of mass shootings. Advocates have called on credit card companies to stop processing purchases from gun shops, and for banks to put pressure on clients who manufacture powerful semiautomatic rifles with military features.
Now, Bank of America appears to be slowly moving in that direction, releasing a statement saying it's in the process of engaging its gun manufacturer clients to "understand what they can contribute" to stop these mass shootings...
"We are joining other companies in our industry to examine what we can do to help end the tragedy of mass shootings, and an immediate step we’re taking is to engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for non-military use to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility."
The statement implies that BofA isn't the only major US bank considering whether it should cut off its relationship with gun manufacturers.
According to Axios' interpretation of the statement, BofA is evaluating whether these gun manufacturers fit with its responsible growth strategy.
Reading between the lines: This sounds like Bank of America thinks that servicing these manufacturers may not be consistent with its Responsible Growth strategy, which calls for "addressing the challenges of our time."
Back in 2015, Bank of America and other banks backed away from coal miners because of the damage coal does to the environment.
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Of course, not everybody believes banks should flex their muscles in such a restrictive way. As Mike Krieger pointed out earlier this week, preventing customers from buying guns with their credit cards would be a "deeply misguided" decision...
If we’re looking for some kind of national consensus, it appears to be centered around the view that mental health issues lie at the core of mass shooting events. Any bank CEO foolish enough to start a fight and ban customers from buying what they want to legally purchase could very quickly regret it. Moreover, irrespective of your stance on the issue, it’s dangerous and irresponsible to call for shadow public policy by crooked mega banks.
What do you think? Are these companies overreacting? Or are they doing the responsible thing by listening to their customers and shareholders?