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Over the weekend, more than 15 big American companies cut ties with the National Rifle Association. This is the big gun lobby group that has long been seen as the absolute obstacle to any kind of meaningful gun control in America. The companies have decided that they no longer wanted to offer discounts or affiliated credit cards to NRA members, which is a big shift, and it reflects the huge consumer pressure that they're feeling through social media.
Most of these decisions to cut ties, by say, Hertz and Delta Airlines, are largely symbolic so they're certainly not changing anything about the way guns are sold in America. But they may be changing perception about whether the NRA is an unstoppable force. The big ways you could deal with the huge influx of guns in the US are two - one is by going after the gun manufacturers, but they're pretty small companies and it's relatively hard to go after them. The more obvious way is by making it harder or less attractive for retailers and payments processors to participate in gun sales.
Right now PayPal does not allow you to buy firearms through their website. In theory, the big banks and Visa and MasterCard could do the same thing, and that would make it much harder for someone who wants to run into the store and pick up a bunch of guns. Similarly, if big retailers, such as say, Cabela's - the big sports equipment store - decided to stop stocking semi-automatics, again, it will be much harder for people to get them and it might slow down the flood of violence that we've been experiencing.
What really needs to happen, if the US is to address its gun violence problem, is probably a change in the law making it harder for people to buy guns, making some guns less available. And so far, the NRA has been an unstoppable political force. The question will be - the fact that these companies are now getting involved, and social media pressure in the wake of the Parkland shooting, is putting the weight on the other side - whether that will finally lead to the kinds of law changes that the US probably needs.