Even after the February 14 murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, gun control advocates have made little headway in Congress or in most state legislatures.
Those lack of results, however, may not be as important as the seismic moves that have been taking place as business and financial interests have taken steps that may do more harm in the long run to the gun industry than anything that might have had a chance to slip through Congress.
The latest example was Bank of America’s decision to stop providing loans to companies that make assault weapons for the civilian market.
According to Bloomberg News, the Parkland school shooting was the impetus for the nation’s second largest bank to cut off the cash pipeline for the gun companies.
The decision followed a recent one by CitiGroup, the fourth largest bank in this country, to require that retail chains that receive funding not sell bump stocks or sell guns to anyone under 21.
While many members of Congress, mostly Republican, receive sizable contributions from the National Rifle Association, which has fought successfully against gun legislation even after the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords at an Arizona supermarket parking lot, the murders of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and mass murders at such venues as country music concerts, churches, and movie theaters, those in banking and business are not as susceptible to NRA pressure.
They are susceptible to pressure from their customers, and it is that pressure that is causing a growing concern for gun manufacturers.
Some major businesses have already come to the conclusion that the mood of the country has turned against the guns-at-all-cost mentality espoused by the NRA and its supporters, with much of that coming as a result of the efforts made by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students after their classmates were murdered.
A number of businesses have made public pronouncements of changes in recent weeks.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced recently that it will no longer sell guns to anyone under 21. The company had already eliminated sales of AR-15s, the type of weapon that has been used at Parkland, as well as in a number of other mass shootings.
Dick’s Sporting Goods also said it will no longer sell AR-15s.
While these companies and others that have made similar announcements have claimed their decisions are based on civic responsibility, and there is no reason to believe that is not true, it is also true that the decisions are unlikely to have a negative impact on their bottom line.
While the companies might lose sales as a result of the stances they have taken, it is not a secret that gun sales are down now, and the main reason for that has been the election of Donald Trump, a Second Amendment supporter who received more than $30 million from the NRA.
Gun companies have been able to greatly increase sales when there is a threat of having Democrats in the White House or Congress by claiming “they are coming after your guns.”
That approach has led to success at the ballot box, as one-issue voters have turned out in droves to help elect legislators who carry the Second Amendment on their sleeves. It has also resulted in increased sales, as a small minority have stockpiled assault-type weapons for fear they will no longer be able to buy them if Democrats are elected.
While gun rights advocates have threatened boycotts of businesses like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart over their decisions, the actions, for the most part, have failed to materialize.
Boycotts appear to be working effectively for advocates of more gun regulation.
A boycott led by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivor David Hogg against Fox News host Laura Ingraham after she belittled the high schooler, on the other hand, has had a considerable effect. Two more companies, Blue Apron and Slim Fast, announced after Monday’s program that they would no longer run advertising on Ingraham’s show, with SlimFast announcing its decision in the following tweet.
“We have stopped advertising on the Laura Ingraham show and have no plans to resume in the near future. We are also monitoring all ad placements carefully.”
HuffPost reports at least 19 companies have pulled advertising from Ingraham’s show.
Whether this trend will continue is anyone’s guess, but for the moment, while gun control advocates continue to have little success in getting laws enacted, it appears the bankers and businesses may be forcing the gun interests to move toward more sensible regulations.