Sensing collateral damage, US companies split with NRA

February 23, 2018 - 12:19 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. companies are taking a closer look at investments, co-branding deals and other ties to the gun industry and its public face, the National Rifle Association, after the latest school massacre.

Boycott petitions are circling online for companies that offer discounts to NRA members and #BoycottNRA is trending on Twitter.

On Friday, a large Wall Street money manager said that it wanted to engage with major weapons manufacturers.

Blackrock Inc., which manages $6 trillion in assets, has become one of the largest stakeholders gun manufacturers like Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc. through indirect investments. The money is placed in index funds, so Blackrock cannot sell shares of individual companies within the index. Its fund clients invest in indexes that might contain companies like Ruger.

On Friday, spokesman Ed Sweeney says Blackrock will be "engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events."

Blackrock, through indirect investments, holds a 16.18 percent stake in Sturm Ruger, an 11.91 percent stake in Vista, and a 10.5 percent stake in American Outdoor, according to the data firm Factset.

Members of the NRA have access to a host of discounts on its website , ranging from life insurance to wine clubs. Some of the companies that partnered with the NRA, as the backlash grows, have begun to distance themselves.

The software company Symantec Corp., which makes Norton Antivirus technology, said Friday that it had ended its NRA discount program.

One day earlier, the car rental company Enterprise Holdings, which also owns Alamo and National, said it was cutting off discounts for NRA members. First National Bank of Omaha, one of the nation's largest privately held banks, announced that it would not renew a co-branded Visa credit-card with the NRA.

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 which killed 17 people, mostly high-school students.

"Evil walks among us and God help us if we don't harden our schools and protect our kids," LaPierre said Thursday. "The whole idea from some of our opponents that armed security makes us less safe is completely ridiculous."

President Donald Trump has aligned himself with the NRA, suggesting some teachers could be armed so that they could fire on any attacker.

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()