By Associated Press - Saturday, February 24, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) - The Latest on the backlash against the National Rifle Association after a deadly school shooting in Florida (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

The Broward County, Florida, sheriff says a letter from a state lawmaker calling for his resignation after a mass school shooting is “riddled with factual errors, unsupported gossip and falsehoods.”

Sheriff Scott Israel issued his response in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott that the sheriff’s office released to the news media late Saturday.

Israel’s letter responded individually to three points that state Rep. Bill Hager made. They included how his deputies responded to the shooting and the number of calls his office received from the home where the shooting suspect lived.

In his letter, Israel said he “would urge Rep. Hager to publicly apologize for helping to (spread) this false gossip and misinformation.”


6:05 p.m.

Dozens of college and universities are telling students who may face discipline at their high schools for participating in gun control demonstrations to relax: It won’t affect their chances of getting into their schools.

Nearly 50 schools including Yale, Dartmouth and UCLA have taken to social media to reassure the students. Several applauded the teenagers’ activism.

The Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead has sparked calls for walkouts, sit-ins and other actions on school campuses across the U.S.

A Texas school superintendent warned that students would face a three-day, out-of-school suspension if they joined the growing protests. Another in Wisconsin said students could be excused with parental consent.

Buzzfeed first reported that the colleges were posting the messages.


5 p.m.

A lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after a mass shooting at a high school that killed 14 students and three educators.

In a letter sent to Scott on Saturday, Rep. Bill Hager cited the resignation of a school resource officer who didn’t enter the freshman building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the shooting started on Feb. 14. Israel has since said that he’s investigating claims by Coral Springs police officers that several of his deputies didn’t enter the building during the shooting.

As governor, Scott has the power to remove a sheriff for neglect of duty and incompetence.

Hager, a Republican from Boca Raton, also cited 23 calls to the sheriff’s office about 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz.

Hager’s letter said the sheriff “was, or should have been aware of the threat Cruz presented to his community and chose to ignore it.”


4:30 p.m.

The National Rifle Association says companies that are severing ties with the gun rights group and its members are wrongly punishing them for a shooting at a Florida high school that claimed 17 lives.

In a statement sent Saturday, NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the group’s 5 million members have long enjoyed discounts and benefits from many American corporations.

“Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community,” the statement said.

The group says it had “nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness … or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.”

Companies, including Delta and United Airlines, said joined the list that cut ties to the gun industry since the Feb. 14 shooting at the school in Parkland.

The NRA statement called the moves a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”


11:30 a.m.

Delta and United Airlines are cutting ties with the National Rifle Association, the latest in major companies to do so following the deadly shooting at a Florida high school earlier this month.

Both Delta and United said Saturday they will no longer offer discounted fares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings, and both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from the NRA website.

A growing number of large companies have announced they are cutting or reducing ties with the NRA. Rental car company Hertz will no longer offer a discount program to NRA members and First National Bank of Omaha said it will not renew a co-branded credit card it has with the NRA.


A large Wall Street money manager wants to engage with major weapons manufacturers about their response to the school massacre in Parkland, Florida.

Blackrock Inc. is among the largest stakeholders in Sturm Ruger & Co., American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Vista Outdoor Inc., but it holds only indirect investments in those gun manufacturers. The gun makers are contained within an index, meaning Blackrock can’t dump their shares directly.

However, spokesman Ed Sweeney says Blackrock will be “engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”

Through its index funds, Blackrock holds a 16.18 percent stake in Sturm Ruger, an 11.91 percent stake in Vista, and a 10.5 percent stake in American Outdoor, according to the data firm Factset.

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