By now, you may have heard DICK’s Sporting Goods has decided not to sell assault rifles, which the gun industry and NRA now like to call “modern sporting rifles,” because everybody’s woke to “assault rifle.” We’ve already seen a host of companies drop their relationships with NRA. United Airlines, Delta, Hertz, Chubb, Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise, Alamo, National rental cars), First National Bank of Omaha, MetLife, Symantec and SimpliSafe have all ended discount programs or perks for NRA members.
A few days ago, I was drawn into one of those ridiculous Facebook battles where I had to block some rando. She assumed I was lying reporting I’d talked to some political professionals (not politicians, too smart) who disdain student-led demonstrations on guns, simply because they’re not electoral. Sometimes people the political consultant class get locked into thinking that only what they know how to run is worthwhile, and that everyone else is a political tourist, or hopeless teenage amateur flush with media attention. The truth is students are now the face of the gun debate, and they’re not only forcing the rest of us to pay attention but forcing us to have a discussion about what kind of country we want to have. It’s too early to see if Emma Gonzalez (who now has more Twitter followers than NRA), the kids from Cherry Hill High School East or any of their peers have the resolve to stick in the game. I’m betting they do, but they’re already driving cultural change. And cultural change
often usually almost always precedes electoral change.
I’m going to stop way short of calling DICK’s move today corporate responsibility. After all, Parkland’s hardly the first mass shooting – or even the first school massacre – where an AR-15 was turned on people to kill them. And not for nothing, even though the face of the gun issue is now teenage and white, kids – most often kids of color – get shot on our streets or in their homes with stunning regularity. For years. The customers at DICK’s Sporting Goods – 16 stores in Jersey – are kids buying sports equipment. There’s no earthly reason why a company that ubiquitous in the teen market needs to be selling weapons they can turn on their classmates. Or anyone else.
But read DICK’s letter. It’s more than a masterwork of good public relations. It also recognizes that in only a short 14 days since the Parkland shooting, teenagers have taken the lead in forcing giant corporations to act differently, though NRA continues to market and defend what is increasingly indefensible.
First, DICK’s is near the top of the Twitter Trending list, nationwide, has been all morning – for a good reason (including tweets from Loretta Weinberg & Phil Murphy). Also FYI – Emma Gonzalez is @Emma4Change on Twitter. Please also follow us, we’re @bluejersey