POLITICS
02/21/2018 17:06 EST | Updated 02/24/2018 19:01 EST

NRA’s Partners Still Turn A Blind Eye As It Blocks Reasonable Gun Control (UPDATED)

Visa and FedEx are two big-name companies with ties to the divisive group.

UPDATE: Feb. 24 ― Many companies announced plans this week to sever ties with the National Rifle Association, including the First National Bank of Omaha, Delta, United, Hertz and others. Read about them here.

PREVIOUSLY: 

Student survivors and others trying to drive reform in the wake of last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have passionately denounced the National Rifle Association. Amid rising outrage over gun violence, public opinion may be finally turning against the nation’s leading opponent of gun control.

Companies don’t have to agree politically with their clients, but those that partner with the gun rights group may want to ask themselves: Are the profits worth the headache of being linked to an increasingly controversial brand?

Many big-name businesses work with the NRA to sell their products and services to its 5 million members. The group’s annual $40 membership fee unlocks “five-star savings” on a surprising range of things ― from banking to shipping packages to prescription drugs.

National Rifle Association
NRA members can get Visa cards sporting the gun group's brand.

Members may apply for a special NRA-branded Visa credit card through the First National Bank of Omaha’s First Bankcard division. The card “offers 5 percent back on gas and sporting goods stores purchases, meaning every time you pack up and head out on a hunt or to the range, or stock up on gear at Cabela’s, Midway USA or other sporting goods retailers, you’re putting money back in your pocket,” says an NRA blog post announcing new perks.

Another option is the NRA-branded prepaid Visa debit card, made available through NetSpend.

In a statement sent to HuffPost, Visa suggested the responsibility lies with the First National Bank of Omaha, which provides the cards. 

“Visa has no contractual or financial relationship with the NRA,” a spokesperson said. “Visa co-branded cards do not represent an endorsement by Visa of that cause or organization. We strive to make our payment services available to all people in all places, for uses consistent with local, national, and international laws.”

A representative for the First National Bank of Omaha declined to comment on its deal with the gun rights group. A NetSpend spokesperson said the company is “reviewing the relationship.”

If Visa were to cut ties with the NRA, it wouldn’t be the first time a financial giant has stood up against the gun lobby. PayPal, Square and Apple Pay all forbid the sale of firearms through their respective platforms years ago, according to The New York Times.

FedEx is another household name that offers significant discounts to NRA members ― from 18 percent off international express shipping to 26 percent off domestic express shipping. A representative did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

HuffPost reached out to more than a dozen other organizations that give discounts to NRA members: Hertz, Avis, Budget, Alamo, Enterprise and National for rental car discounts; Allied and North American van lines for moving discounts; HotelPlanner for travel discounts; TrueCar for auto discounts; ParamountRx for prescription drug discounts; LifeLock for identity theft protection; Reliastar Life Insurance Company for life insurance and MetLife for auto and home insurance. We did not immediately receive any responses.

But some brands and public figures have ended their association with the NRA in the last year.

A Wyndham Resorts representative told HuffPost that the company cut ties in 2017, having previously offered NRA members 10 percent off reservations at more than 6,500 hotels. Celebrities previously listed as supporters of NRA Country ― including the duo Florida Georgia Line and singer Thomas Rhett ― have disappeared from the website for the group’s lifestyle arm over the past year.

Meanwhile, students protested in front of the White House to demand gun reform on Presidents Day Monday. Students across South Florida staged walkouts on Tuesday and Wednesday. And busloads of Stoneman Douglas High students who survived the shooting traveled to Tallahassee, the state capital, to speak with policymakers this week.

A larger anti-gun protest, dubbed March for Our Lives, is set for March 24 in Washington, D.C.

Clarification: Due to an editing error, a subheadline in a previous version of this story indicated Visa offers discounts to NRA members. Those discounts come from a bank that uses the cards.