By Alan Murray and David Meyer
March 1, 2018

Good morning.

Sorry to dwell on guns, but I suspect we will look back at this week as a defining one in the history of relations between companies and society. Walmart announced yesterday that it would no longer sell guns to anyone under 21. And Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it was discontinuing sales of assault weapons. That’s not a huge deal for Dick’s, as the company already had stopped selling them at its 715 name brand stores, and was only still selling them at the 35 stores in the Field & Stream chain. But still, it’s significant, particularly given Dick’s clientele. And it leaves Bass Pro Shops as the only major retailer still selling the assault guns.

Meanwhile, anti-NRA protestors are planning a boycott of Apple and Amazon tomorrow because they offer access to NRA TV streaming video. The two companies are keeping quiet, for now; but stay tuned.

Not clear how far this will go, but easy to see it going too far. I talked to the CEO of a major investment company, who says he is under pressure to “divest” gun manufacturers—something that’s particularly difficult to do with index funds, when the gun making companies are part of the index. Similarly, the CFO of a credit card company said that it’s under pressure to prohibit use of cards for buying guns—something it has no technical means of policing.

Then there’s the case of FedEx and UPS, which are sparring over their NRA policies. FedEx first refused to end discounts for NRA members, saying it never sets pricing or discounts for groups “in response to their politics, beliefs, or positions on issues.” Then, when the heat intensified, it tried to deflect blame, saying “for shipping from its online store, the NRA uses UPS and not FedEx.” UPS countered that it’s just a common carrier, and doesn’t offer discounts to the NRA.

All would probably agree that gun policy should best be set by government, not private companies. But it’s the abject failure of government, in this and so many other areas, that’s spurring companies into action.

News below.

Alan Murray


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