Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Gun reform activists in Orlando were joined by advocates across the country Wednesday to protest FedEx for giving discounts to National Rifle Association members.
The shipping company is a member of the NRA Business Alliance
and reportedly gives NRA members several discounts
, including 26 percent off select FedEx Express U.S. shipping, says Nicole Varma, of the organization Guns Down. Activists argue the FedEx discount and other business benefits given to NRA members enable the gun lobby to push for pro-gun legislation, such as reducing requirements for background checks; allowing people with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry in public; and permitting license holders to have guns in airport passenger terminals, college campuses, public schools and government meetings.
Newly elected state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, says it's time to "starve the beast" and called for a boycott of "corporate enablers" like FedEx who offer incentives that help the NRA recruit members and hire lobbyists.
"After Pulse, after everything that happened, I can't believe the NRA would advocate we bring even more guns into the equation as a solution to gun violence," he says. "I think that's insane."
After the Pulse massacre ended the lives of 49 people last June, families of the deceased victims, the LGBTQ community and gun reform activists have organized locally to bring attention to the fact that 33,000
Americans die from gun violence every year. Last month in New York, the organization Gays Against Guns
demonstrated against FedEx, Hertz and Wyndham for giving discounts to NRA members.
"The NRA spent $52 million in outside spending to elect Donald Trump and pro-gun senators and representatives this year," says Ken Kidd, a member of Gays Against Guns, in a statement. "Some of that cash came from NRA members who saved money doing business with FedEx, Hertz, and Wyndham Worldwide. If these companies want to do business with the rest of us, they have to stop doing business with the gun radicals at the NRA."
FedEx declined to comment further on its relationship with NRA members and demands for the shipping company to pull out of the agreement.
"As a matter of policy, we do not comment on specific customer agreements," a FedEx spokesperson says in an email.
Smith says Central Florida residents can use other companies like UPS and the U.S. Postal Service to send gifts this year.
"There are other providers and other corporations that can meet their holiday needs when it comes to shipping that have not colluded with the NRA and the gun lobby to make our communities less safe," he says.