Chicago Tribune: These 3,100 businesses love the NRA even as others pull back

You can’t confuse Delphi Greek restaurant with Smith & Wesson. Delphi specializes in kebabs and baklava — not AR-15s and ammunition.

Yet the Los Angeles restaurant is one of about 3,100 U.S. businesses that still proudly stand with the National Rifle Association. At a time when major corporations like Delta Air Lines Inc. and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. are rethinking their relationship with firearms, the NRA’s legion of steadfast supporters in its Business Alliance provides a sharply different view of America’s enduring gun culture.

These outfits are the business equivalent of the NRA’s about 5 million claimed individual members. Most are small concerns. Many are associated with the firearms industry. And whether they’re in liberal bastions or the reddest of red states, they tend to oppose any tightening of gun controls, despite the national outcry over the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

The Business Alliance, as the group is known, has members in 50 states. They range from a pawnshop in Hartselle, Ala., to a stone veneer contractor in Schuylkill Haven, Pa., to a hunting preserve in Kamuela, Hawaii. Businesses pay a yearly fee that members said can range from $40 to $150 per year, and in return they get visibility, a plaque and the chance to identify with a cause.

“The Second Amendment for me is very personal,” said Roozbeh Farahanipour, who owns Delphi and fled his native Iran after leading student protests in 1999. “As long as I think that they’re defending the Second Amendment, and it still is challenged by a group of people, I believe I need to support them.”

The NRA still wields political clout. But the quick erosion of support among America’s largest businesses reflects its changing place in the national landscape. An NPR/Ipsos poll taken two weeks after the Parkland shootings found just 36 percent of Americans said the NRA represents their views, down 7 percentage points from October.

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