NRA Discount That Triggered Delta Showdown Was Barely Used

(CBS)

ATLANTA (CBSNews) — A Delta Air Lines spokesman confirmed that only 13 members of the National Rifle Association bought discounted tickets using a perk that the airline later withdrew, in the wake of Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said Friday (Mar. 2) the discounted fares had been available for a short time and were only for NRA members purchasing flights to the group’s 2018 convention in Dallas.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian insisted Friday “we are not taking sides” in the gun debate.

But Delta’s decision last weekend to stop the discounted fares for the NRA triggered a showdown with pro-gun Republican lawmakers in Georgia.

The legislature stripped a tax break on jet fuel from a broader tax bill Thursday after GOP Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle vowed to punish Delta for crossing the NRA. Cagle says they were defending the values of “ridiculed and belittled” conservatives.

Cagle called Delta a “beloved bedrock” of Georgia’s economy in an opinion piece published Friday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But he said Delta’s decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association sent a clear message to conservatives that “we find your views deplorable.”

Cagle wrote: “We cannot continue to allow large companies to treat conservatives differently than other customers.”

GOP Gov. Nathan Deal has blamed election-year posturing for the Delta controversy. Deal is term-limited and Cagle is a leading Republican candidate to succeed him.

The NRA has come under scrutiny in recent weeks since the Parkland, Florida, shooting left 17 dead.

President Trump has met with the NRA twice since then. Neither of the meetings were listed on his public schedule, and the public only learned of them after they took place.

On Thursday night, Mr. Trump tweeted that he had a “great” meeting with the NRA. Despite the president’s apparent openness to considering some Democrat-backed gun control measures in a Wednesday bipartisan meeting with lawmakers, NRA executive director Chris Cox tweeted after that meeting that Mr. Trump has no interest in gun control measures.

Mr. Trump has floated arming teachers, raising the age for buying a gun to 21, strengthening background checks and doing more about the mentally ill. But exactly what the president wants to do on guns has left Congress perplexed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has said his chamber will not take up any gun legislation next week.