Gun Control Debate Pushes Rental Car Companies to End NRA Member Benefit Programs
Enterprise Holdings has dropped its benefit program for the gun rights group. Will companies like Avis, Hertz, and TrueCar follow suit?
Car rental giant Enterprise Holdings has announced it will be ending a benefit program that provided discounts to National Rifle Association members, as a #BoycottNRA campaign continues to gain steam online in the aftermath of last week's school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Now, the question is: Which company will be next?
Like many organizations, the NRA contracts with businesses to provide discounts and perks to those who join the origanization. Prior to this week, it was estimated that no fewer than 22 companies were involved with the gun-rights group, including six major rental car companies as well as car-purchasing service TrueCar. That means nearly a third of the special offers available to NRA members are automotive related—or at least they were, until Enterprise Holdings announced in a tweet Thursday evening that it would be ending the discount program for its Alamo, National, and Enterprise brands as furor over the group's response to the shooting spread online and critics threatened to boycott any associated companies. The benefits will end on March 26.
The Drive reached out to Enterprise for more details on why it originally decided to partner with the NRA and the exact reason for the change in policy, but a spokesperson simply referred us back to the company's tweet. The Drive also contacted the other automotive companies listed on the NRA website that haven't made any public statements—TrueCar, Hertz, Avis, and Budget—for clarification on their own corporate partnerships; we'll update this story if we hear back.
Enterprise isn't the only company to reconsider its relationship with the NRA in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 students and teachers dead. First National Bank of Omaha, the nation's largest private bank, said it would not be renewing its contract with the group to offer what's advertised as the "Official Credit Card of the NRA," which offered 5 percent cash back on fuel purchases.
This is far from the first time that online critics have sought to use financial leverage to change a company's position on an issue, and the deep pockets of car companies have made them a frequent target. Last year, several major automakers were among the first to pull commercials from The Bill O'Reilly Show on Fox News following multiple reports accusing the host of sexual harassment and a public movement to boycott the show's advertisers.
But even if every corporate sponsor eventually backs down in this case, it would appear the NRA won't be cowed, as CEO Wayne LaPierre reiterated during a speech on Thursday.
"If they seize power...our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever," he said.