If these cowardly companies severing ties with the National Rifle Association think they can get away with waffling on gun rights, they should think again.
States where they don’t take too kindly on shunning the nation’s oldest civil rights organization are fighting back, like Georgia.
Lawmakers in that Southern State have approved a bill that would remove a $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel, a tax break that Delta Air Lines has strongly lobbied for.
Delta, along with several other companies, have ended promotional discounts for members of the NRA.
Also ending their relationships with the NRA are car-rental companies like Hertz and Enterprise and MetLife Insurance. The announcement comes in the aftermath of last month’s shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. The New York Times reports:
On Thursday, the Georgia Senate overwhelmingly approved a version of the bill without the jet-fuel tax break. The House, which had already approved a version of the bill, also approved the change. Both houses are controlled by Republicans.
The legislation now goes to the desk of the Republican governor, Nathan Deal, who has pledged to sign it into law. But Deal is a supporter of the jet-fuel tax break, and he said he would sign the bill only because it also included a significant reduction in personal and corporate tax rates.
It’s a sign, the Times reports of a rift between gun-rights conservatives and pro-business Republicans. Deal criticized fellow Republicans who wanted to punish Delta – which, he said, would hurt Georgia’s business-friendly reputation.
“Ours is a welcoming state — the epitome of ‘Southern Hospitality,’” said Mr. Deal, who will leave office because of term limits early next year. “We were not elected to give the late-night talk show hosts fodder for their monologues or to act with the type of immaturity that has caused so many in our society to have a cynical view of politics.”
In addition to being one of Georgia’s biggest employers, Delta is the economic engine of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the busiest airport in the world and a bragging point in the city’s claim to national and even international stature.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is one of those gun-rights “purists,” and he is the presumptive front-runner in the governor’s race.
“I think that obviously Delta is free to make any decision that they want to,” Mr. Cagle said during an appearance on “Fox and Friends” this week. He added that Delta “chose to single out the N.R.A. and their membership, law-abiding gun owners, and I don’t think that’s right.” Delta announced on Saturday that it was ending a discount for N.R.A. members traveling to the association’s annual convention.
On the floor of the Senate on Thursday, Senator Michael Williams, another Republican candidate for governor, praised his fellow lawmakers for stripping the tax exemption, saying they “stood strong” in the face of pressure from liberals, the media and big business.
Mr. Deal has said he was “committed to finding a pathway forward for the elimination of sales tax on jet fuel, which is nonnegotiable.” But the political reality seems to leave him with few options.