Companies cutting ties with NRA after Parkland, Fla. school shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. — 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.

Petitions are circulating online targeting companies that offer discounts to NRA members on its website. #BoycottNRA is trending on Twitter.

Members of the NRA have access to special offers from partner companies on its website, ranging from life insurance to wine clubs. For a second consecutive day companies listed on the site have cut ties to the NRA as it aggressively resists calls for stricter gun control.

The insurance company MetLife Inc. discontinued its discount program with the NRA on Friday. The software company Symantec Corp., which makes Norton Antivirus technology, did the same.

Those defections arrived a day after 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.

The insurance company Chubb Ltd. is discontinuing a partnership with the NRA, related to a policy specifically for gun owners. The company announced that it would end participation in the Carry Guard insurance program Friday. Chubb Ltd., said the decision to do so was made several months ago, though.

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.

Kansas gubernatorial candidate and current Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he wants the NRA to move its convention to Kansas. The convention is scheduled to be held in Dallas in May, but this week a Dallas city council member asked the NRA to cancel it.  However, Dallas expects to make about 40 million dollars on the three-day event.

Meanwhile, shares of gun companies mostly fell in midday trading Friday.

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

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.