Anti-NRA Boycott Gaining Steam

More than a dozen companies have ended relationships with the gun rights organization and protesters are demanding more follow suit.

In the tragic wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, a wave of anti-NRA sentiment has led many corporations to sever their ties with the organization.

The National Rifle Association lashed out at corporations rushing to abandon it, as companies from United Airlines to Best Western have cut ties with the gun lobby group under pressure from a boycott movement following a Feb. 14 high school shooting.

Without context, twin announcements from Delta and United airlines on Saturday morning might look trivial: The end of flight discounts to the NRA’s annual convention, which few outside the gun rights organization likely knew existed before they became boycott targets.

But in abandoning the NRA, the airlines followed car rental giants Avis, Hertz and Enterprise, the Best Western hotel chain, the global insurance company MetLife, and more than a dozen other corporations that have severed affiliations with the gun group in the last two days.

[…]

In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the NRA accused companies of “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

People are demanding more:

There is a growing list of companies who have decided to end their respective partnerships with the National Rifle Association following the tragic shooting death of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As of this writing Amazon, Apple, Google, and Roku are not among the companies listed, but if an increasingly vocal number of anti-NRA and pro-gun control voices get their way, that might change. That’s because all four companies carry the organization’s streaming media arm, NRAtv, and opponents are calling for them to stop.

Variety first reported the matter on Thursday when the #StopNRAmazon hashtag began trending on social media. A day later the #StopNRApple hashtag began trending as well, and while its corporate focus was entirely different than its predecessor, both carried the weight of the same argument — stop streaming NRAtv or else. When reached for comment, representatives from Amazon, Apple, and Google did not respond to Variety. A Roku spokesperson, however, told the outlet they were “an open platform for streaming and allow publishers to reach a TV audience,” and that they will continue to carry NRAtv for the moment.

Needless to say, the general silence from these companies didn’t sit well with those who first raised the issue on Twitter. So as USA Today reports, a petition specifically targeting Amazon Prime’s carrying of NRAtv was launched. “We must remember to respect the First Amendment above all else,” read the petition, which currently boasts over 22,500 signatures. “If NRA members want to watch NRA TV, they can find it without Amazon’s promotion. There is no place in your home for brands that earn money through the NRA.”

As longtime readers might guess, I find this troubling.

I was unaware that there was an NRAtv show and would, in any event, not be its target audience. But, presumably, various services which provide access to broadcast content include the channel because there’s a sufficient audience demand to make carrying it profitable. Channels without the ability to attract an audience go away. The notion that they should be taken off the air on the basis of the content of their speech is illiberal, if not un-American.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Quick Takes, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I was under the impression that NRATV was an online only show.




    0



    0
  2. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: That could well be. But the argument remains the same: it was presumably worthwhile for these services to run the channel. They’re being blackmailed by a mob to stifle its content.




    4



    0
  3. James Pearce says:

    The notion that they should be taken off the air on the basis of the content of their speech is illiberal, if not un-American.

    Sure, but you know there’s a workaround for that. I mean, we wouldn’t tolerate Amazon hosting an Al QaedaTV channel that incites and encourages terrorism, and we wouldn’t be worried that banning it would be illiberal because F Al Qaeda.

    So here’s the workaround: exaggerate the evil, equate or inflate the “not good” with the “very bad,” and perhaps take the next step of inflating the “not good/very bad” to “worst thing EVAR.” We all do it to some extent. (Think…putting pineapple on pizza, which could either be a personal preference or a culinary crime, depending on one’s POV.)

    My concern with this anti-NRA stuff is that it displays all the “dumb liberalism” stuff I’ve been railing against for the last two years, in this case, focusing on the easy, achievable stuff that may not, in the end, be that important, then declaring pre-mature victory.

    The question these boycotters and stand-withers need to ask themselves is this: Do you want to end the NRA’s discount program at Hertz, or do you want to reduce gun crime in the US?




    2



    4
  4. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    The question these boycotters and stand-withers need to ask themselves is this: Do you want to end the NRA’s discount program at Hertz, or do you want to reduce gun crime in the US?

    It’s not an either/or. The NRA’s lobbying arm is a major driver of the legislation that enables both “run-of-the-mill” gun crime and mass shootings, and the NRA is a major donor to politicians who enact that legislation, so damage to its reputation and finances advances the overall goal of reducing gun crime in the US.




    9



    3
  5. JohnMcC says:

    Well, if responding to market forces is indistinguishable from blackmail by mob threats, there is a serious perception problem somewhere. I’d argue that the companies withdrawing special promotions that publicly connect them with the NRA are prudently serving their investors. Weird that should become a left-wing idea.




    15



    2
  6. JohnMcC says:

    @James Pearce“…(D)o you want to end the NRA’s discount program…or end gun violence….”

    Yes.

    Do you think that it is ‘dumb liberalism’ to believe that those just two parts of the same project? Wow, wish I was as smart as you.

    Actually, seeing the NRA close it’s doors and shut the fuck up sound like a great idea to me.




    10



    1
  7. TM01 says:

    It’s appears that you’re just now figuring out the Left in this country is illiberal (traditional) and un-American.

    The big question is what too you so long?

    The left has gone from “I may disagree with what you say but I will defend your right to day it,” to “I may disagree with what you say SO SHUT UP YOU RACIST NAZI!”

    There’s this, to effectively or literally banning conservative speakers on college campuses. Shaming the FB executive for saying most Russian ad buys came after the election.

    Toe the party line or suffer the consequences.




    4



    14
  8. JohnMcC says:

    @James Joyner: It is credibly reported that various U.S. banks (specifically BoA) are considering ending their credit-card business relationships with merchants who sell ‘assault weapons’. Sounds like a sound business decision to me.

    And I have to add that the idea that the NRA is a victim of mob mentality is so completely backwards from the actual facts of the situation that it is difficult to process.




    11



    2
  9. Steph Durant says:

    The facts of the matter is that the people are addressing a matter than the majority have a view on that their elected officials are refusing to acknowledge. The people then need to find other legal ways to encourage adoption.

    A majority of Americans want stronger gun controls. 90% plus want more thorough background checks. However, elected politicians are being bribed and coerced into ignoring the demands of their constituents.

    Ergo, other legal means, and boycott is certainly one of them, WILL be pursued. If you feel a majority of Americans are against boycotts YOU can lead a political movement to make boycotts illegal. That is up to YOU.

    Amazon can continue to stream NRAtv; their business choice. They can also deal with reduced sales volumes and customers. Again, their choice.

    Everything here is completely legal, just as is the NRA’s grading of electoral candidates every election.

    (Note: your soapbox is entirely legal as well — you are entitled to your view and to your interest in the defense of open broadcasting. I’m certainly not arguing for the shutdown of NRAtv. I just won’t support businesses supporting NRAtv. not until reasonable gun control is introduced to America. Then I will be back to businesses doing business with the NRA.)

    The politicians are doing the people’s will. The people will find another legal means to get their will done.




    13



    2
  10. Kathy says:

    The upside in all of this is the NRA is beginning to lose respectability.




    7



    3
  11. michael reynolds says:

    @TM01:
    Shut up you racist Nazi.




    12



    6
  12. James Joyner says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Well, if responding to market forces is indistinguishable from blackmail by mob threats, there is a serious perception problem somewhere.

    Tweetstorms are not in any meaningful way a market force.

    It is credibly reported that various U.S. banks (specifically BoA) are considering ending their credit-card business relationships with merchants who sell ‘assault weapons’. Sounds like a sound business decision to me.

    It sounds anti-American to me. What other legal purchases are they going to be allowed to use their oligopoly power to stifle?

    And I have to add that the idea that the NRA is a victim of mob mentality is so completely backwards from the actual facts of the situation that it is difficult to process.

    The NRA is an organization acting as a voice for its membership. It does many things that I support, including a massive gun safety training program, along with advocating an extreme version of policies I support vis-a-vis the 2nd Amendment. I find their absolutism counterproductive, but their membership fears the slippery slope and not entirely without reason. Regardless, ending business relationships because the mob is demanding it is the very definition of being a victim of mob mentality.




    3



    10
  13. mistermix says:

    Controversial organizations don’t get corporate support. A “mob mentality” didn’t cause Planned Parenthood and the ACLU to lose discount programs. The NRA is every bit as controversial as those two organizations, and any sane corporation should have run away from sponsorships long ago. The difference between the NRA and PP/ACLU is that the causes espoused by the latter have far more widespread public support than those of the former.




    12



    0
  14. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    It’s not an either/or.

    But what if it is? You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “missing the forest for the trees.” The point of that is that you miss the forest. You don’t get the forest and the trees.

    @JohnMcC:

    Actually, seeing the NRA close it’s doors and shut the fuck up sound like a great idea to me.

    I cry no tears for the NRA, but I wouldn’t consider that a war aim. This is an imperfect analogy, but shut down Volkswagen and Hugo Boss and you still have to deal with the Nazis.

    @James Joyner:

    What other legal purchases are they going to be allowed to use their oligopoly power to stifle?

    Cigarettes. Drones. Loud stereos. Tall buildings. Wait, who’s the “they” in this sentence?




    2



    0
  15. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: It might surprise you to learn a lot of people can actually chew gum and walk AT THE SAME TIME! Amazing, isn’t it?




    3



    0
  16. Andy says:

    Boycotting firms with affiliate relationships is all well and good, but I’m undecided about a boycott designed to silence views that others don’t like. As an isolated case, getting all these services to drop NRAtv might not be a big deal (especially if alternative broadcast outlets are available), but this is taking place in the context where free speech, more broadly, is under attack in this country.




    1



    0
  17. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    This is an imperfect analogy, but shut down Volkswagen and Hugo Boss and you still have to deal with the Nazis.

    The Allies bombed the shit out of Volkswagen during WW2. Eventually the Nazis had to surrender, largely because their means of waging war lay in ruins.




    2



    0
  18. James Joyner says:

    @James Pearce:

    Cigarettes. Drones. Loud stereos. Tall buildings. Wait, who’s the “they” in this sentence?

    The credit card industry. For all intents and purposes, it’s more important than the US Mint in our day-to-day commerce. We transact most of our business online, where you can’t use cash even if you wanted to. We really want to empower them to not service legal industries they happen to dislike or which are out of favor with the public?




    0



    0
  19. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s also ironic that people complaining there’s not enough tracking of firearms purchases would be backing a boycott that would lead to them all being purchased with untraceable cash transactions.




    1



    0
  20. EddieInCA says:

    Mr. Joyner –

    With all due respect, the good things the NRA does is minuscule compared to the “zero-tolerance” policy they have on regulating firearm ownership.

    The way to combat the NRA is to force companies to stop doing business with them. The NRA has to be put in the same category as Nazis, Cigarettes, Child Molesters, etc. There sill still be (25% of the population) supporters (see Roy Moore, as an example), but the overwhelming majority will oppose them.

    Banning large magazines? Public overwhelmingly supports. NRA blocks.
    Banning Semi-Automatic Rifle? Public overwhelmingly supports. NRA blocks.
    Regulating ammunition sales? Public overwhelmingly supports. NRA blocks.

    These kids are going to to finally change the politics of NRA Support.

    This time it’s different.




    8



    0
  21. michael reynolds says:

    The NRA has one purpose, one purpose only: to enrich gun manufacturers and retailers. Everything else is bullsh!t to baffle the morons. This is about nothing but profit. That’s why the NRA does not oppose bad gun laws, they oppose ALL gun laws. They oppose anything that reduces the income/profit of gun makers by so much as a penny. If they could push flamethrowers, RPGs and tanks they would.

    A bunch of traumatized teenagers have seized the moral leadership of this country. They’ve given effective voice to the disgust decent people feel for the NRA and their spineless Congressional tools. This is not primarily about laws, it’s about hearts and minds. More and more people see the NRA as the moral equivalent of the tobacco lobby or NAMBLA.

    I support the boycott of firms doing business with the NRA. And I note the effectiveness of boycotts by the Left as opposed to, say, the pitiful Right-wing effort to boycott Starbucks. This is not just about corporations choosing to avoid controversy, it’s about the Left representing the future for these corps, and them realizing it. Something the supposed capitalists on the Right should take note of.

    However, I draw the line at stifling free speech and do not join in calls to block NRAtv.




    6



    2
  22. Franklin says:

    @michael reynolds: Why the downvotes? That was humor, folks. TM01 had an expectation, and MR fulfilled it.




    1



    0
  23. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: You have been saying for years that the only way to end the gun nuts’ reign of terror was a cultural shift like the one against smoking. Anti-smoking laws only followed the change in thinking, and that will be true of gun laws as well. And now, stunningly, that shift finally seems to have started. A lot of credit goes to those amazing high school students, but my guess is that their message is resonating so loudly because we’ve just had three huge mass murder events and our government has consistently refused to do anything about it. They can get away with “thoughts and prayers” and “it’s too soon to talk gun control” only for so long… and when a new mass murder happens and it’s still too early to talk about the last one, people will ditch the Republicans and start looking for real solutions.

    I hope this is the moment at last…




    3



    1
  24. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:
    I have to add that as a YA author, someone who has laid down something like 6 million words dealing with teenagers, and have at times been criticized for exaggerating the abilities of teenagers, I feel vindicated. I’ve always gone to Nelson’s navy as my example – 12 year-old powder monkeys running powder and shot in the midst of sea battles, 14 year-old midshipmen commanding gun batteries while cannonballs fly past their ears. But now I have the Parkland kids to cite.

    What they’ve done is absolutely amazing.

    It was actually a visit to a French stationery shop years and years ago when I was a teenager myself. The only person manning the shop was a kid who looked to be about ten. And you know what? He knew what he was doing. That stuck with me.

    We infantilize kids – and God knows I have myself with my own – but it’s the soft bigotry of low expectations. I just think this country would be better off if we stopped warehousing kids in schools that teach little and started letting more work as apprentices. True education is ennobling, but so is work.




    2



    1
  25. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @TM01:

    Toe the party line or suffer the consequences.

    Ah yes, the motto of the Tea Party. Thanks for including it! 🙂

    On the question of NRAtv, I agree, it’s simply wrong to demand that providers stop carrying the programming. Additionally, there is no appreciable similarity to what I imagine is the content of NRAtv and an “al Queda channel that incites and encourages terrorism.” There may come a day that there will be an intersect as I trust the gun-totting loonies lobby to be just as irrational as any other terrorists, but I’ll reserve my “shouting fire in a crowded theater” objection for later.




    0



    0
  26. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @JohnMcC:

    And I have to add that the idea that the NRA is a victim of mob mentality is so completely backwards from the actual facts of the situation that it is difficult to process.

    This, too!




    0



    0
  27. Gustopher says:

    When the right wing decided to go scorched earth and destroy comity in America, who could have known that it would affect them as well?

    With the hyper partisan climate in the US, companies really have to avoid associating with any controversial organization or movement. Even controversial right wing organizations.




    0



    0
  28. Gustopher says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    On the question of NRAtv, I agree, it’s simply wrong to demand that providers stop carrying the programming.

    Does Amazon pay to stream NRAtv? Does money from my Amazon Prime membership go to fund the NRA? Why wouldn’t I demand that they stop supporting the NRA?




    1



    0
  29. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    So much for net neutrality.




    0



    0
  30. EddieInCA says:

    I read this somewhere… wish I could find out where, so I could properly credit it:

    “Around the time Wayne LaPierre took over the NRA, it went from being ‘Field and Stream’ to ‘Soldier of Fortune’.”

    It’s why the NRA is becoming toxic. We have to keep reminding people that they’re not standing up for gun owners (of which I am one), but, rather, they’re standing up for gun manufacturers.




    1



    0
  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Because freedom of speech is sacred. I despise efforts to silence opposition voices, it is un-American. Pressuring corporations to end their NRA deals that incentivize membership? Sure. That’s not speech. I am absolutely sickened seeing the Orwellian attacks on free speech coming from part of the Left.




    0



    0
  32. grumpy realist says:

    @EddieInCA: There also seems to have been a shift in ownership from “everybody having one gun” (which makes sense in a heavily rural population to “a bunch of would-be Rambo types getting armed to the teeth and no one else carrying.”

    At some point, having a gun is going to be seen as an anti-social act. Will probably take some time, but the school (and other) massacres aren’t slowing this trend down. At which point getting rid of the Second Amendment will be possible.




    0



    0