Can Multinationals Rein In The National Rifle Association?

Gun control has become a burning issue in American politics. Many innocent American citizens, most of them, school going kids have lost their lives because of the gun violence in the United States. There is tremendous anger amongst the people.

A sizeable majority of the population is of the opinion that guns should be regulated in America.

However, the politicians do not seem to share this opinion. Ted Cruz, who is a senior Republican, faced tremendous public opposition while trying to address this topic in a rally in Florida.

Similarly, Donald Trump also faced tremendous public opposition when he suggested that the solution to the problem was allowing more guns in school.

The people of the United States feel that the powerful and rich National Rifles Association (NRA) has a stranglehold on Washington.

They believe that the politicians will stand by debating the pros and cons of the issue even though innocent people are getting massacred.

Many businesses have claimed that it is their social responsibility to act upon matters which are of importance to the society. Some multinational businesses have even implemented this in the past.

There is a rising expectation amongst people that multinational corporations should take action to disrupt the sale of weapons even if the government is not. In this article we will have a closer look at how businesses can help people solve this issue and discharge their corporate social responsibility duties in the process.

Multinationals that have Already Taken Measures

There are many multinational corporations that have been proactive in this regard. They have understood the menace that uncontrolled sales of guns pose to society and have acted against it as a part of their corporate social responsibility issues. Some of these multinationals are:

  • Companies like PayPal and Apple Pay have prohibited the use of their services for transactions which involve purchase and sale of firearms. Obviously this has made life difficult for the NRA.

    Most guns are purchased online and these two companies are major processors of payments made online. Their boycott has limited the payment options that gun buyers have

  • Wal-Mart has stopped selling assault rifles in their stores since 2015. These are the types of rifles that are quite popular among gun buyers.

    However, these are also the rifles that were used in maximum gun violence attacks in the United States.

Multinationals that can make an Impact

Brave action by a few firms has set the precedent. However, till major corporations decide to boycott dealings with the NRA, the impact will not be significant.

  • Visa and MasterCard control payment processing in the online as well as the offline world. These companies should learn from PayPal and Apple Pay. They should stop processing payments for any organization that is connected with the National Rifle Association in any way.

    The payment processing industry is virtually a duopoly. If both the companies stop processing payments for the NRA, customers won’t be able to buy weapons using their credit cards at all!

  • If the payment processing industry does not spring into action, maybe the banks should. Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan bank has said that the bank is looking for social issues where their actions can make an impact. This could be their chance!

    Also, this would not be the first time that banks stop funding certain products or services. They have taken these steps many times in the recent past.

    For instance, banks like JP Morgan have banned the purchase and sale of crypto currencies like Bitcoin using their credit or debit cards. Right now JP Morgan is sending a message that they are more concerned about Bitcoin than the life of innocent citizens. Public relations experts would agree that such an image is not healthy for their business.

  • Companies like McDonalds, Amazon, eBay etc. are not directly related to the NRA. However since they are powerful corporations that have relations with banks and other financial bodies, they can use their influence to ensure that banks and payment processors do their bit to solve this problem which has become a menace.

Although, multinational corporations are not directly responsible for preventing the sales of firearms, they have the power and influence to make a significant impact. This is the reason why boardroom talks are heating up.

It is likely that some companies may follow the footsteps of PayPal and Apple Pay. Doing so will definitely help them score some public relations brownie points.

Legal Viewpoint

One major concern for these corporations would be whether the NRA can sue them in court for their actions. It turns out that they cannot. Deciding to do business with another entity is purely a commercial decision. If companies decide to prevent some products from reaching their shelves, they cannot be sued for discrimination.

The bottom line is that indiscriminate use of guns has become a social menace. Companies that act against it will be perceived as heroes since people have lost faith that the United States government will act in this regard.

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