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Private-sector exodus away from NRA picks up steam

What started a trickle has become a flood: most of the NRA's corporate partners no longer want to be associated with the far-right organization.
This 06 April, 2005 photo shows the sign
FAIRFAX, UNITED STATES: This 06 April, 2005 photo shows the sign in front of the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. AFP...

About a week ago, ThinkProgress published an interesting item about the National Rifle Association and its corporate partnerships.

After paying the gun lobby's $40 annual fee, members are offered access to a range of discounts and "five-star savings."Much like AARP or AAA, the organization promotes its discounts for members as a selling point for why people should join. The "valuable 5-star benefits" promised include not just a subscription to an NRA magazine and a gun-owner liability protection policy but also savings on insurance, identity theft protection, hearing aids, car rentals, moving vans, shipping, and even wine.

ThinkProgress' list featured 27 of the NRA's corporate partners, including several brand names that most of the country would immediately recognize, such as some of the nation's largest rental-car companies.

Two days later, the First National Bank of Omaha announced plans to end its NRA-branded Visa credit card once its current contract expires. Enterprise Rent-A-Car had a similar announcement soon after. What started with a trickle soon became a flood: as of yesterday, five days after the ThinkProgress list was first published, 18 of the NRA's 27 corporate partners said they're ending their relationships with the far-right organization.

In fact, two corporate giants that weren't even included on the original list of 27 made similar announcements. On Friday, ThinkProgress reported that Delta and United Airlines were offering NRA members discounted flights to the group's annual meeting in May. "Both airlines initially claimed that the relationship was standard for any organization," ThinkProgress noted, "but on Saturday morning, Delta said it would be 'reaching out to the NRA to let them know we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program,' and United issued a similar statement shortly after."

Realistically, will the NRA's loss of private-sector allies do real harm to the organization's finances? It seems unlikely.

The point, however, is to extend the public backlash, fueled by the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., and push the National Rifle Association closer to pariah status. As we discussed last week, the more the NRA's brand, such as it is, reaches a toxic level, the more the group finds itself isolated.

And while the changes won't happen overnight, the more an advocacy group is pushed to the fringe, the harder it will have to work to maintain political influence.