Public approval ratings plunged for companies that severed their ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA) following the Parkland, Florida, massacre of 17 students and teachers, according to a poll released Wednesday by Morning Consult.
Gunman Nikolas Cruz slaughtered his victims February 14 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, prompting a flood of new demands from gun control advocates for a boycott against the NRA.
The #BoycottNRA hashtag went viral as activists applied pressure to companies connected with the NRA to distance themselves from gun rights group and end their discounts and incentives for members. The Morning Consult results suggest decisions to sever all ties reaped negative results.
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Morning Consult’s Ryan Rainey noted that the survey conducted among 2,201 U.S. adults between February 23 and 25 “found increases in negative views of businesses that severed ties with the NRA after consumers learned of them.”
Although MetLife Inc. retains the 45 percent favorable rating it held prior to discontinuing its NRA members’ discounts, disapproval of the company doubled from 12 to 24 percent after the poll’s respondents were informed of the decision.
“Unfavorability ratings for the three major rental-car brands associated with Enterprise Holdings Inc. — Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo, and National Car Rental — all more than doubled among surveyed adults after they learned about the companies’ ending discounts for NRA members,” Rainey noted.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car saw its favorability rating plummet from 61 to 50 percent as its disapproval rating rose from 12 to 25 percent. Although neither Alamo nor National Car Rental saw their approval ratings change significantly, the disapproval ratings rose from 10 to 24 percent and 11 percent to 25 percent, respectively.
Many companies find themselves increasingly struggling with how best to deal with pressure from activists across the ideological spectrum to take a stand on hot-button issues dominating national discourse.
“Business leaders are increasingly under pressure, largely from younger generations of socially conscious and digital-media savvy consumers, as well as from employees, to take a stand on everything from immigration to gay rights to climate change,” The Wall Street Journal’s Vanessa Fuhrmans and Rachel Feintzeig wrote Wednesday.
A 2017 survey from public relations company Weber Shandwick found that almost 50 percent of millennials believe CEOs from large companies have the responsibility to lead the way on important issues, while just 28 percent of Generation X and baby boomers believe the same.
Pro-gun control websites like ThinkProgress are tracking the companies still doing business with the NRA amid mounting pressure, plus lists of the companies that caved into their pressure. But some companies, including FedEx, Apple and Amazon, have defied pressure and declined to sever their ties with the NRA.
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Dick’s Sporting Goods succumbed to another kind of pressure by announcing Wednesday that it would no longer sell assault rifles such as the AR-15 Cruz used in Parkland — and would require all purchasers to be 21 or older.
But the NRA also remains firm in its resolve to defend the Second Amendment, saying in a statement Sunday that “the loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world.”
“In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve,” the NRA said.