The #NeverAgain movement gave a hard blow to the NRA
After a group of students started a campaign against the lobbying of the National Rifle Association, several chains and brands have decided as well to cut their ties with the organization.
The shooting at Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, Florida, will be remembered as the day when everything changed for gun fan groups.
In a society that shields under the Second Amendment, an army of students has decided that it is time to put the old laws in perspective with respect to the speed of 21st-century arms development.
"Since the time of our Founding Fathers and since they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution, our weapons have developed at a speed that makes me dizzy. The weapons have changed but our laws have not, "denounced the student survivor of the shooting, Emma Gonzalez, in a speech that ignited the flame of the movement #NeverAgain, that aims to reform the legislation on the right to carry weapons and the ban of assault rifles.
But for organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA), this type of civic deeds threaten a powerful industry that hides behind the pamphlet of the "auxiliary right of self-defense" that the Second Amendment proclaims.
Its response to the #NeverAgain media reaction revealed the aggressiveness and incoherence with which this group defends its multiple nationwide investments, and has shown that behind a simple pro-gun organization a powerful empire is hidden.
But like every Rome has its twilight, the hegemony of the NRA seems to be coming to an end.
Earlier this week, retail heavyweights Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods announced they would launch new measures to restrict access to their arms products. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the decision of both chains led to a string of similar maneuvers by companies such as MetLife, Hertz and even Delta Airlines, who had strong commercial ties with the NRA.
In a statement issued last Wednesday, Dick's announced that it would immediately stop the sale of assault rifles in its stores for anyone under 21, and its CEO demanded the NRA to side with those requesting stronger laws in the bearing of firearms.
Following its footsteps, Walmart - the country's largest retailer - also announced that it would take similar measures and would not allow children under 21 years of age to access any type of weapon.
Dick's small satellite chain, Field & Stream, also joined the movement in calling on lawmakers to take action on the issue by banning assault weapons, bump stocks and large-capacity magazines.
"We support and respect the Second Amendment, and we recognize and appreciate that the vast majority of gun owners in this country are responsible, law-abiding citizens," Stack said in a letter. "But we have to help solve the problem that's in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that's taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America — our kids."
As the days go by, more stores and chains join the movement.
Last Thursday, two outdoor lifestyle retailers also decided to break any ties with products that were connected to the NRA, The Hill reported.
The large outdoor recreation co-op REI, a chain of stores that do not sell weapons per se, issued a statement announcing that it would suspend orders for Vista Outdoor brand products in a gesture against the NRA's positions.
“REI does not sell guns. We believe that it is the job of companies that manufacture and sell guns and ammunition to work towards common sense solutions that prevent the type of violence that happened in Florida last month,” the company said. “In the last few days, we’ve seen such action from companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart and we applaud their leadership.”
Other co-ops such as Mountain Equipment of Canada announced that they would also cut ties with Vista due to their production of assault weapons, as well as their derivative brands such as CamelBak, Giro, and Bell.
But perhaps one of the toughest blows the NRA can expect will be seen through its political lobbying, especially during the midterm elections this year.
As political analyst Mark Plotkin explained to The Hill, “taking money from the NRA (could make) 2018 candidates unelectable”.
After the surreal meeting between the president and lawmakers of both parties to address the issue of arms control, the terrain for the November elections seems to lean more to the Democratic agenda only by accident, as the leaders of both parties still fail to demonstrate true leadership
That is why for Plotkin, "the real culprit is the NRA".
"Let's not kid ourselves. The NRA has managed to handle the entire debate for decades. They even opposed the modest change of raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21," he explained.
For the analyst, the candidates who take advantage of the wave of rejection against the NRA are the ones who could have a greater opportunity to be elected.
"Those candidates who continue to take money from the NRA should have to pay a price. The price is defeat at the polls," he added. "I am sorry to say that true and fundamental change will not occur until NRA backed and endorsed candidates lose and lose big."