Stores are changing their policies; companies are bucking the NRA.
There's been a lot of change since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and it's come from unexpected places.
In the week that followed the massacre of 17 teachers and students, people across the political spectrum came together in an effort to do something.
And that's a big deal.
Too often, the end result of a mass shooting — whether it's 49 people killed at the Pulse nightclub in 2016, or the slaughter of 58 people in 2017's Las Vegas shooting — is for most Americans to simply shrug, accept that nothing will ever change, and go about our lives.
But the teen survivors of Parkland weren't about to let that happen again. They've marched, made appearances on TV, and somehow managed to rally nearly the entire country around the issue of gun violence in a way that hasn't been seen in years.
Most of all, they started a thoughtful conversation — no longer accepting "thoughts and prayers" as the only answer to the epidemic.
Students returned to class on Feb. 28, two weeks after 17 students were gunned down. Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images.
Already, a number of corporations have made big changes to their policies around guns and who they will sell them to.
On Wednesday, Feb. 28, DICK's Sporting Goods announced immediate plans to stop selling "assault-style rifles" from their 35 Field & Stream specialty stores (they'd previously stopped selling them at their main stores after the Sandy Hook shooting). They also removed high capacity magazines from their inventory, raised the minimum gun-buying age to 21, and recommitted to their decision not to sell bump stocks (which were used in the Las Vegas shooting).
"In light of recent events, we’ve taken an opportunity to review our policy on firearm sales," reads a Walmart press release announcing plans to increase the minimum purchase age for firearms and ammunition to 21.
"We are also removing items from our website resembling assault-style rifles, including non-lethal airsoft guns and toys. Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way."
The next day, Kroger announced that its Fred Meyer department stores would no longer sell firearms or ammunition to people under the age of 21.
The moves by these major gun retailers follow weeks of students and activists successfully urging companies associated with the NRA to cut ties.
The National Rifle Association is a gun rights organization, but in recent years, it's become more extreme, resisting even the smallest changes to gun laws and fighting to protect legal loopholes. They also have a lot of clout in political circles, making their resistance to change that much more difficult in pursuit of sensible reform. A #BoycottNRA movement popped up on Twitter soon after the shooting, and within a week, a number of corporate sponsors gave second thought to the decision to offer things like discounts or NRA-branded Visa cards to the group's members.
A couple days later, Delta and United Airlines joined in, announcing plans to discontinue their NRA relationships.
Car rental companies Enterprise and Hertz ended NRA discount programs, each putting out short, simple statements on their Twitter pages.
MetLife, Paramount Rx, and Starkey Hearing, a hearing aid company, severed ties with the group, as well. Insurance company Chubb, which had previously offered NRA-branded insurance policies, announced an end to that program.
And home security company SimpliSafe announced an end to its NRA discount program, which offered members two free months of its service. Cyber security company Symantec made a similar announcement via their Twitter page.
A man aims a semi-automatic AR-15 at Good Guys Guns & Range on Feb. 15, 2018 in Orem, Utah. An AR-15 was used in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland. Photo by George Frey/Getty Images.
Not all companies have felt moved to take action or distance themselves from the NRA.
FedEx decided to continue its discount programs for NRA members, noting that the group was just one of hundreds of associations offered reduced shipping rates. The company clarified that while it does not donate to or sponsor the NRA in any capacity, the program would remain.
Still, FedEx tried to clarify that the discount program was not meant as an endorsement of NRA policy positions:
"FedEx Corporation’s positions on the issues of gun policy and safety differ from those of the National Rifle Association (NRA). FedEx opposes assault rifles being in the hands of civilians. While we strongly support the constitutional right of U.S. citizens to own firearms subject to appropriate background checks, FedEx views assault rifles and large capacity magazines as an inherent potential danger to schools, workplaces, and communities when such weapons are misused. We therefore support restricting them to the military. Most important, FedEx believes urgent action is required at the local, state, and Federal level to protect schools and students from incidents such as the horrific tragedy in Florida on February 14th."
Another target of activists' ire has been the NRATV digital streaming channel, available on outlets like Apple TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Roku. The channel, which recently aired a clip of one of their hosts smashing a TV with a sledgehammer, an interview in which one of their correspondents said liberals have "so much in common with ISIS" and "hate America," a segment blaming the Parkland shooting on the Obama administration, another segment that compared the Parkland shooting to Benghazi, and one playing host to a former sheriff who said the Parkland survivors "use the same kind of language" as Hitler.
To be sure, the channel is controversial and incendiary, which is why activists have called on Apple, Amazon, YouTube, and Roku to drop it. To date, none of the four have.
Members of activist organization Code Pink protest the NRA's Wayne LaPierre in December 2012, one week after the Sandy Hook massacre. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
There's still a very long way to go in the fight to address gun violence. It's time the government took a note from the people and did something.
The discussion about guns and their place in society isn't going to fade into the background. The brave teens of Parkland are making damn well sure of that. It's time the government actually did something about the problem instead of throwing its hands up and shrugging it off. Yes, President Donald Trump did meet with members of Congress to discuss potential action to discuss possible action, but it seems unlikely that they'll actually make meaningful change without continued public pressure.
We don't have to live in a world where there are just a certain number of acceptable losses to gun violence, and it's time we elected leaders willing to step outside that defeatist mindset and get things done.
Dick’s Sporting Goods is a sponsor of Good Media Group, but did not pay for the content of this news article.