Delta and United airlines have joined a list of corporate sponsors of the National Rifle Association in the wake of the February 14 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. The two carriers announced on Saturday that they will no longer give discounts to NRA members. 

In a tweet on Saturday, Delta confirmed that it had contacted the NRA, “to let them know we will be ending their contract” for discounted fares for members attending the association’s annual meetings. Delta also requested that the NRA remove its information from the association’s website. Later on Saturday, Delta released another statement about the severing of its connection to the NRA.

"Delta’s decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings,” reads a message posted to the Delta News Hub. “Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment.”

Delta also stated that it had once pulled out as a sponsor of a theater production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” that depicted Caesar as a Donald Trump-like figure. “Delta supports all of its customers but will not support organizations on any side of any highly charged political issue that divides our nation,” wrote the airline.

 

On Saturday, United airlines made a similar announcement. On Twitter, United stated: 

“United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website.”

Two other large carriers, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, had not previously offered discounted fares to the NRA’s annual meeting. “To clarify, American does not have a group travel program with the NRA, nor do we appear on their website," the carrier confirmed in a statement obtained by Forbes. 

For its part, NRA was defiant. It stated on Twitter: 

“Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world.”

In response to these and other corporate sponsors who have wavered in their support, NRA released a statement that called them out for a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.” On its website, the NRA stated: 

"The law-abiding members of the NRA had nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness, the failure of America’s mental health system, the failure of the National Instant Check System or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.” 

It went on to say: 

“In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve.”
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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