The 14 February tragedy resulted in 17 deaths, several of them students. Yeti primarily makes high-end outdoors products, including iceboxes costing between $250 to $1,300 according to the Washington Post. The company had been offering NRA members a discount on its products often used for outdoor events. The videos posted show NRA members destroying iceboxes and tumblers with bullets and otherwise.
One member, Bryan Atkinson of South Carolina, “placed ammonium nitrate and aluminium powder, packaged in a cardboard box sealed with duct tape,” in his icebox. He then took his AR-15 weapon, the same type of weapon used in the Parkland shooting, and shot at the icebox, blowing it up.
A letter was sent on 20 April to NRA members by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action announcing Yeti’s decision. Former NRA president and current lobbyist Marion Hammer called the iceboxes, known as coolers in the US, a “hot item” for several years for NRA members. But she wrote: “They will only say they will no longer sell products to The NRA Foundation...That certainly isn’t sportsmanlike. In fact, Yeti should be ashamed."
The company maintained that it still supports the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which says people in the US have the right to bear arms, and said the letter was “inaccurate” in a Facebook post. “When we notified the NRA Foundation and the other organisations of this change, Yeti explained that we were offering them an alternative customisation program broadly available to consumers and organisations, including the NRA Foundation,” the company said.
The recreation company went on to say: “the NRA-ILA stated … that ‘[Yeti has] declined to continue helping America’s young people enjoy outdoor recreational activities.’ Nothing is further from the truth. Yeti was founded more than 10 years ago with a passion for the outdoors”.
The icebox maker is not alone though. Several companies including Delta Airlines, car hire companies Enterprise, Alamo, National, Hertz, and First National Bank of Omaha, have all ended discounts and programmes offered to the group.
As the Post reported, the company has a “distinct appeal” to hunters and outdoor adventurers. “The company calls the coolers “grizzly proof,” as certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. Yeti markets them as the ideal companions for campers and other outdoor adventurers trudging through the wilderness on trips that require storing food and drinks”.
Ms Hammer was unsatisfied with Yeti’s explanation. She told the newspaper the company’s claim it “simply eliminated the entire program affecting NRA Foundation and other unnamed organisations” was akin to “eliminating a job position so you can get rid of an employee”.
The NRA has repeatedly hit out at students survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting whilst they make several media appearances, organise events with celebrities, and hold marches with hundreds of thousands of people across the country to call for gun control reform and a ban on assault-style weapons like the AR-15.