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NRA Blasts 'Cowardice' Of Corporate Partners Turning Away From Gun Group

The list of companieschoosing to sever ties with the National Rifle Association kept growing this week as young anti-gun activists captured national attention withimpassioned calls for gun law reformafter a Florida school shooting left 17 dead.

The NRA is not too happy. Soon, its members will no longer be able to make purchases with NRA-branded Visa cards or save on airfare for the group’s annual Dallas convention, among other former perks.

Corporate decisions to turn away from the powerful gun lobby group was “an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community,” the group said in a bitter statement shared with HuffPost on Saturday.

For the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the group pinned blame everywhere but itself and its “law-abiding members.” It accused the school of failing to prepare for a gunman attack, criticized the U.S. background check system used in firearms purchases, pointed to inadequate mental health care and chided the responding law enforcement agencies.

Accused gunman Nikolas Cruz purchased the AR-15 rifle he used in the attack legally. His behavior leading up to the attack had led some who knew him to alert authorities.

″Despite that, some corporations have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice,” the group continued.

“The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world,” the gun advocacy group said.

The NRA predicted the withdrawal of member benefits will be short-lived. It said other companies will replace the ones that ditched the group. First National Bank of Omaha, Delta, United, Hertz, Enterprise and Symantec, among several others, have said they would part ways with the NRA.

In a break from its usual modus operandi after a mass shooting, the NRA has gone on the attack, trotting out spokeswoman Dana Loesch and CEO Wayne LaPierre todefend the group’s pro-gun message. President Donald Trump, who received millions in campaign contributions from the NRA during his presidential run, suggested this week a plan to encourage teachers to carry firearms in class. 

Activists frustrated with U.S. gun policy have already staged demonstrations across the country, with a milestone protest, March for Our Lives, planned for next month.

Read the NRA’s full statement below:

The more than five million law-abiding members of the National Rifle Association have enjoyed discounts and cost-saving programs from many American corporations that have partnered with the NRA to expand member benefits. 

Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community.  We are men and women who represent every American ethnic group, every one of the world’s religions and every form of political commitment.

The law-abiding members of the NRA had nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness, the failure of America’s mental health system, the failure of the National Instant Check System or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.

Despite that, some corporations have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.  In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve.

Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.