Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, and Dick's Sporting Goods, which has more than 600 shops -- 37 of them in Florida -- announced Wednesday major gun reform policies in their outlets, and ever since have been hearing praise from the anti-gun lobby and boobirds among the nation's hunting class.
Dick's said it was done selling assault-style rifles; Walmart issued a statement raising the minimum age for anyone buying guns or ammunition to 21 years.
Walmart also said it would remove items from its website that resembled assault-style rifles. The retailer stopped selling high-powered rifles in its shops in 2015, citing low demand.
Firms including Hertz car rental, United Airlines and Delta Airlines have ended discounts to National Rifle Association (NRA) members.
The flak-fielding NRA remained characteristically silent. That's what the NRA does after a mass-casualty shooting like Nikolas Cruz's rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. It turns to a playbook it has perfected over several decades, critics and supporters told Sunshine State News.
The NRA approach calls for aggressive fact-finding and long strategy sessions before any public statements. The Fairfax, Va.-based organization has waited weeks before responding to past deadly incidents NRA critics call the indirect result of its resistance to tighter gun control.
While calls go out for every kind of ban possible, the organization's first priority is to learn what it can about the shooter. The NRA insists what matters isn’t the particular type of gun, but the person holding it ... and how they came to obtain it.
In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting, pressure has mounted on politicians at all levels of government, but particularly state lawmakers in Florida in the middle of the 2018 legislative session, to act on gun control and for corporations to cut ties with the National Rifle Association -- which many are doing.
“It’s stunning — nothing like this has ever happened before with the NRA as far as I know." ... The #BoycottNRA hashtag, the unofficial unifier of the movement, was trending on Twitter earlier this week. It appeared more than 10,000 times in a single four-hour period, according to the analytics service ExportTweet ... The boycott effort -- parts of it organic, parts of it carefully orchestrated -- is widely called "an impressive show of force" against the gun lobby.
On the other side of the issue, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, candidate for Florida commissioner of agriculture, isn't ducking the conversation either, nor is he waffling about it.
“The Citizens United case confirmed that the First Amendment protects everyone’s free speech, both individuals and corporations like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart," Caldwell said Thursday. "If you don’t want to sell a product to someone based on your beliefs, you don’t have to, whether it’s firearms or cakes for same-sex weddings. I’m a proud lifetime member of the NRA and I’ll be sure to spend my dollars where they are welcome.”
Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis turned his scorn toward legislative proposals for increased gun control in Tallahassee.
"Given that the issues of bureaucratic incompetence, school safety and mental health demand immediate attention, I’m disappointed that the Florida Legislature is rushing to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens," DeSantis said Thursday. "When dealing with a right that is specifically enumerated in the Constitution, blanket restrictions that diminish individual rights are suspect.
"Better to focus on denying firearms to dangerous individuals, which avoids infringing on constitutional rights and is also more likely to be effective. The goal should be to keep our students safe, bring accountability to the officials and institutions that failed, and protect the rights of Floridians,” he said.
Dick's CEO Edward Stack told CNN he expects a backlash from some customers, saying "the hunt business is an important part of the business, no doubt about it."
Cruz, the 19-year-old confessed Parkland shooter, bought a gun at Dick's, though it wasn't the weapon he is alleged to have used in the attack, Stack said.
"We did everything by the book, and we did everything that the law required, and he was still able to buy a gun," he said in an interview on "Good Morning America."
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith