Another Path to Gun Control

Once again, the Republican controlled Congress refuses to address the issues of gun violence and civilian ownership of military-style weapons. Meanwhile, spurred on by the survivors of the Parkland shooting, some segments of corporate America are taking action. As citizen-consumers, we must step up to support the companies that have taken positions we support and put pressure on those who continue policies supporting the NRA. Put your consumer dollars to work; use your wallet as a weapon against gun violence. Make the fight against the NRA part of our pocketbook decisions.

A nationwide anti-NRA boycott is emerging from the devastation in Parkland Florida. This is a long-term struggle that is partly a real consumer boycott and partly an ongoing action to raise the symbolic issues around the gun culture, gun violence and the thousands of unnecessary gun deaths in America every year.

The decisions by Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and Kroger to not sell guns to customers under 21 is a small but significant step for corporate responsibility. REI has ended its relationship with Vista Outdoor, which owns Savage Arms, a gun manufacturer and retailer of semi automatic weapons, as well as owner of popular brands like Camelbak, Giro and Bell.  Delta, United, Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, Budget, MetLife, and BestWestern have dropped discount deals for NRA members to take a stance against the role of the NRA in blocking meaningful gun reform. Dropping these sweetheart deals with the NRA is very expensive for the companies since they engender a backlash from NRA supporters. These companies deserve our support and encouragement.

There is a long and successful history of boycotts contributing to progressive social change. There are real costs of economic boycotts to their targets. Perhaps most importantly, boycotts can draw moral lines and change what is socially acceptable. Starting slowly and often lasting for decades, boycotts like those against apartheid South Africa (1962-1994) and the abusive grape growers in California (1965-1970) changed both the optics and the politics of key human rights issues. It’s time to bring the same pressure to bear on those supporting the political power of the NRA and gun manufacturers. 

We can out number, out call, be more organized and have more economic impact than 5 million NRA members.   Here are three key strategies:

  • Boycott companies that maintain a relationship with the NRA or manufacture and sell semi-automatic weapons. FedEx has refused to cut off their discounts to NRA members. Amazon, Google, YouTube and Apple offer an NRA video channel through streaming services. Change your spending decisions; change the world.
  • Divest from the stocks and bonds of the gun industry. If you manage your own portfolio, divest from gun manufacturers and allied businesses. It is not always immediately obvious what companies are involved in the arms business. Check here for advice.  If your assets are in pension or other investment funds demand that the fund managers divest for you. A letter to your pension trustees is a first step. There are high yield social justice and social impact investments that can replace investments in weapons of violence.
  • Finally, join the emerging movement to demand that Visa and MasterCard stop processing transactions from those who sell assault weapons. We’re not asking you to give up your credit cards, yet.

Call To Action

Vote with lifestyle choices and boycott those that support the NRA and shop at those who don't

Write to companies and thank them for not giving discounts to NRA members.  Tell them you appreciate their bold and important contribution to ending the stranglehold power of the NRA on blocking reasonable gun control legislation. Shop at those stores and tell them why you are there.

Write to companies that are propping up the NRA’s power. Boycott those companies and let them know you are. One first step is to choose UPS or USPS for all your package deliveries and let FedEx know you did.

Include gun control as a critical item on your check list for candidates you support.  Keep this issue alive in electoral politics and let the young folks lead.