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FedEx differs with NRA on gun issues, but won't end member discounts

Why companies are cutting ties with NRA

Some of the nation's largest companies remain under pressure over their relationships with the National Rifle Association following the mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Florida high school earlier this month.

FedEx (FDX), which runs the world's biggest cargo airline, on Monday issued a statement saying that it supports restricting assault rifles and large-capacity magazines to the military, a position that puts it at odds with the firearms group.

But FedEx is not backing down in the face of a social-media campaign calling for a boycott of the company if it does not end shipping discounts for NRA members. FedEx said it would "not deny service or discriminate against any legal entity regardless of their policy positions or political views."

The company's stance in part echoed views expressed by Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, a Republican running for governor, who issued a statement accusing companies that have moved to cut ties with the NRA of "discrimination against conservatives and law-abiding gun owners."

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Cagle led an effort in the Georgia Senate on Monday that derailed tax legislation that would have boosted Delta Air Lines' (DAL) bottom line after the carrier joined several other national companies in halting its discount program for NRA members. 

Cagle further vowed to block any tax legislation that benefits the Atlanta-based airline unless it reverses its decision to end its business partnership with the NRA.

"Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back," he tweeted.

More than a dozen companies have ended discount programs for NRA members in recent days, including Delta, United, insurer MetLife, and car rental companies Avis Budget and Hertz. In addition, First National Bank of Omaha said last week it would stop issuing NRA-branded credit cards to its members.

Companies, even those like FedEx that are keeping discounts offered to NRA members, are feeling pressure to clarify their stance on the organization and on guns after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said Americus Reed II, a professor at the Wharton School of Business. 

"Obviously they feel pressure to come out and say this," he said. "Even those with a conservative viewpoint feel they need a response to this consumer pressure. "

"I do think we are in a different state of the world than we were in 1999 for Columbine or Sandy Hook in 2012, whereby social media and all of these things are in the forefront," he added. "Consumers can very easily use this technology to mobilize their power. That is being seen now. "

-- Rachel Layne contributed to this report

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