Why companies are cutting NRA ties in wake of Florida shooting

Why companies are cutting ties with NRA

More than a dozen corporations including Delta, Hertz and the First National Bank of Omaha are ending NRA member discounts and other perks in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting. In a statement, the NRA called it "a shameful display of political and civic cowardice."

Axios reports that companies are increasingly stepping up on social issues when government has been reluctant or gridlocked.

Axios' co-founders, executive editor Mike Allen and CEO Jim VandeHei, were asked on "CBS This Morning" what sort of pressures are driving companies toward taking such a stand.

"I think there are two things that are hitting a company simultaneously that are really reshaping our relationship with the companies and the companies that we work for," VandeHei said. "One is social media. People can instantly put pressure on companies to make big decisions about their products.

axios-cofounders-mike-allen-jim-vandehei-ctm.jpg
Axios co-founders Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei say millennials and social media are pressuring companies to sever relationships with the National Rifle Association. CBS News

"Two is (and I see this even at Axios), where the millennial workforce has a different expectation of us as employers, they expect you to take a stand, they expect you to have opinions; they expect you to stand for something bigger than just profit. And companies are feeling this.

"And you saw this with the Muslim ban, you saw it with immigration, you saw it with global warming, and now you're seeing it with guns, where companies like Blackstone over the weekend, Bank of America over the weekend are saying, listen, we're going to take a look at our clients' relationships with gun manufacturers. This never would have happened five or ten years ago."

Mike Allen added, "It's a lot harder now to be a CEO. These issues that Jim is talking about -- and this includes me, too -- this includes LGBT discrimination, this includes immigration. Like all of those, it used to be risky for a brand or a company to talk about it. Now they have to.

"It's funny; this is partly a Trump effect. Just in the last year there's been something of a change from pulling back to, now you have to speak up."

Co-host John Dickerson said, "That's because purchasers make their decisions every day about whether to fly Delta or not fly Delta. But voters are different in the way they behave -- if you want to punish a lawmaker, you have to wait all the way until November, and in this case you have a calcified group supporting Second Amendment rights. They believe in them very strongly, so you have a pushback, whereas with consumer products you don't really have a pushback."

"For all the people who want change in the wake of this shootings, it has to be in voting," VandeHei said. "Since the 1994 election, the reason that Republicans -- and a lot of Democrats, by the way -- never challenged the NRA is because they believed that it's political suicide to do so. If millennials turn out, if voters who are outraged turn out, and sudden you see members of Congress losing because of the gun issue, it won't just change, it will change like that! It will change instantly.  Because lawmakers respond to incentives, and the incentive is for them, I want to keep my job. If you lose your job because of it, the game changes on a debate that was otherwise been defined differently for 30 years."

Allen noted that the students protesting current gun laws, who have been likened to the "Freedom Rider" of the 1960s civil rights movement, will be voters soon – and companies and lawmakers are starting to realize that a wave of millennials at the polls is coming. "And just as their consumer behavior is different, they also are a lot more likely to have their own opinions than mirror their folks, or mirror some of the other influencers that young voters have in the past," Allen said.

Given President's Trump comments on the issue, including talk of raising the minimum age to purchase assault rifles, VandeHei was asked if he thought things might happen once Congress returns from a break this week.

"This president more than anyone, he does has a super power: He has this ability to get Republicans to do things that we always thought they wouldn't do," VandeHei said. "We saw it play out on deficits; we saw it play out on how Republicans view the FBI."

But he was not optimistic that Mr. Trump would put forth an effective agenda: "When he talks in public, he's talking about arming teachers. That's the thing that has him most amped up right now. I don't think anybody thinks that that's the solution, and it certainly is not a pathway to a bipartisan compromise to get significant gun legislation."

Allen and VandeHei were also asked about an Axios report that President Trump has been pushing to have the pilot of his personal jet head the Federal Aviation Administration.

"This is the president of the United States has put forward his personal pilot to run the FAA," said VandeHei. "We joke about it; it's not a joke. It's a massive part of the bureaucracy that regulates what happens in the air.

"And this is gong to the heart of how Donald Trump does run the presidency like a family business. He's got his son-in-law sitting there making big diseases when he can't clear the background check to be able to get security clearance to have access to the most sensitive intelligence. He's got his daughter, Ivanka, intimately involved in tons of public policy. 

"So many days we laugh and laugh, but this isn't normal. It's not normal to have this many family members this intertwined in the operation of a White House, for the obvious reasons. When it happens, it presents conflicts of interest. There's a reason Chief of Staff Kelly is outraged by this, doesn't really want the kids there, because it just makes life more complicated for the people who are there trying to do their jobs and not feel like the deck is stacked because they're not part of the family circle."

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.