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NRA backlash: Major bank and car-rental giant are ending partnerships

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 2/23/2018 Mike Murphy

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Companies may be starting to rethink their ties to the National Rifle Association in the wake of last week’s massacre at a Florida high school, with a major bank and car-rental giant announcing Thursday they were dropping partnership programs with the NRA.

First National Bank of Omaha, the nation’s largest privately owned bank, said Thursday it will not renew its contract with the NRA for a branded Visa card.

“Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA,” a bank spokesman said in a statement. “As a result, First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract with the National Rifle Association to issue the NRA Visa Card,”

The bank had a relationship with the NRA for more than a decade, and the card touted a $40 cash-back bonus, enough to reimburse a one-year NRA membership.

Later Thursday, privately held Enterprise Holdings Inc. — the parent company of the Enterprise, Alamo and National car rental brands — said it will end its partnership with the NRA, which gave NRA members discounts. In tweets, Enterprise Holdings said that program will end next month.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Enterprise Holdings said “We ended the discount program, effective March 26.”

Both First National Bank of Omaha and the Enterprise Holdings brands were named Tuesday by the website ThinkProgress as among 22 major companies involved in corporate partnerships with the NRA. Some activists have called for consumer boycotts of companies that do business with the NRA.

Experts said severing such business ties is not without risk.

“This is a bold move for First National of Omaha but also a risky one because passions burn so hot on both sides of the topic of guns,” said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com in an email.

“Many will applaud the move, but NRA members are famously loyal and the organization has shown itself as being very good at mobilizing its members, so there’s a real possibility of a significant backlash. However, banks are in the business of managing risk of all kinds, and First National clearly sees this as one they’re willing to take in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Florida.”

The NRA has been on the defensive recently amid renewed calls to overhaul the nation’s gun laws. On Thursday, NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre said those pushing to restrict gun sales “hate the Second Amendment, they hate individual freedom.”

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