It’s time for an economic blockade of the NRA

Sad. Angry. Confused. Powerless.

That’s how I felt after the gun-related deaths of last week – Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and Dallas, coming right on the heels of Orlando.

How does one untangle the threads – institutionalized racism, individual racism, mental health, homophobia, militarization of the police?

Taken together it’s overwhelming.



But there is a single thread that runs through all these events, and that’s the thread we need to pull. The proliferation of handguns and assault rifles, open carry, weak background checks, cop-killer bullets – the policy agenda of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Not of gun owners. Not of hunters. But of the NRA, an organization that has such a stranglehold on our political system that a rational discussion of gun policy is impossible.


It’s easy to confuse the NRA for an interest group. They’re not. They’re a business, a $300 million dollar business whose revenue model is based on maintaining a constant level of panic among otherwise responsible gun owners, fearful that the government is just around the corner waiting to seize everyone’s guns.

dallas shooting

It’s a familiar business model. Consider Cuba’s Fidel Castro, who spent 30 years warning that the US was poised to invade. Or the propaganda that supports the brutal oppression of the North Koreans, or the Ayatollah Khomeini’s description of the United States as “the Great Satan.” It’s hyperbole meant to control the masses.

In response, to those three tyrants the United States adopted an economic blockade.

If we’re ever to advance the national conversation about sensible gun control, then the progressive movement needs to adopt a total economic blockade of the NRA – refusing to do business with ANYONE who does business with the NRA.

We need to demand that the non-profits we support, the associations we belong to and the corporations we patronize stop using firms that serve NRA. Here are a few examples:

·      InfoCision, the NRA’s call center company, boasts on their website of also having AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Time Warner, the Communication Workers of America and UNICEF among their clients.

·      Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s Oklahoma City based advertising agency, also has the United Way of Oklahoma City among their clients.

·      Palm Coast Data, of Palm Coast FL, the data processing and magazine fulfillment company that handles the NRA magazine, also provides services to Audubon, Nickleodeon and The Nation.

·      The Georgia World Congress Center, which will host the 2017 NRA Convention, is also hosting the Susan Komen Breast Cancer 3 Day, and many large association conferences.

One of the most important and certainly the most public business partner of the NRA is Visa, the credit card company. The NRA has a partnership with Visa, whereby NRA members can apply for a special Visa card which generates significant revenue for the NRA.

A vigil held outside the Stonewall Inn in NYC to honor the victims of the shooting massacre in Orlando, Florida.

A vigil held outside the Stonewall Inn in NYC to honor the victims of the shooting massacre in Orlando, Florida.

Guess who else offers Visa cards to their members? The Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP, PETA, the Service Employees International Union, the Fraternal Order of Police, and dozens of other organizations.

These groups may very well be unaware of Visa’s relationship with the NRA. But they should now tell Visa that so long as the credit card company continues to partner with the NRA, they will switch their business to MasterCard. And as consumers who probably have both cards in our wallet, we should “blockade” Visa, and do our charging with a MasterCard or any other friendly card.

The progressive community has tremendous economic clout. Now’s the time to use it. The NRA is a toxic force in American politics. We need to contain their toxic influence through an economic blockade.

Money talks. It’s time to be heard.

Mike Bento is a branding and marketing consultant based in Washington DC, with clients in the non-profit, corporate and government sectors. Mike was one of the founding volunteers of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, and serves on the board of Food and Friends, in Washington DC. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeBento.

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