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Companies cut ties with NRA amid growing anti-gun campaign

American businesses have started severing ties with the NRA. Credit: AP

American businesses have begun severing ties with the controversial pro-gun National Rifle Association (NRA) in the wake of the latest mass school shooting.

Seventeen students and teachers were killed when 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas school in Parkland.

The deaths have sparked a wave of activism from gun control supporters, calling for tougher restrictions and lobbying companies to cut links with the NRA.

And many already have.

On Thursday, the First National Bank of Omaha, which has an NRA-branded Visa credit card, said in a statement that it had decided not to renew the contract.

Others followed suit, announcing they would end their NRA membership discount programs.

Thousands gathered in protest against gun violence in Tallahassee, Florida. Credit: AP

Car rental firms Enterprise, Hertz, Avis and Budget are among them, along with the insurance giant MetLife, software firm Symantec, and home security company SimpliSafe.

Meanwhile, insurer Chubb has said it will stop underwriting NRA insurance for gun owners.

But other companies, including Amazon, Google and YouTube - all of which offer NRATV - along with Apple and FedEx, have not made any such announcement, much to the anger of campaigners.

Experts are divided over whether the move will be positive, or prove damaging.

NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway told NBC News an 18-year-old was "the most valuable person in the world of consumer business".

"They have influence over what the rest of us believe is 'cool' and have a lifetime of discretionary spending ahead of them," he added.

"Their recent galvanization against the issue has made the NRA very uncool and an easy target for firms wanting to say to the most important cohort: 'Hey, we get it, and are with you'."

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre slammed talk of tougher gun control. Credit: AP

Others have warned that they risk alienating the famously loyal NRA membership base, which could galvanise a significant backlash.

Calls for tighter gun control measures have been rejected by the NRA, which instead pointed the finger at school security, the mental health system and the FBI.

At a meeting on Thursday, leaders launched an attack those campaigning, accusing them of "exploiting tragedy for political gain".

"They hate the NRA. They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom," NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre told the crowd.

The organisation has also spoken out against plans announced by Donald Trump to raise the age for purchasing assault rifles to 21.