Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Airlines are rarely first when it comes to political action.

They benefit far too much from government regulation to do anything other than quietly lobby and keep their ingrained advantages.

After the killing of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, however, things are changing.

Today, United Airlines and Delta both announced they're severing ties with the National Rifle Association, the lobbying arm of the gun industry.

Why would these essentially conservative organizations risk alienating diehard gun supporters, many of whom have a certain political hue?

Why now? Why not after Sandy Hook or Columbine? 

It's partly because they've become more sensitive to their customers. 

They know that airlines have come to represent the opposite of customer service and even humanity for many people. 

More significantly, corporations in general have found themselves drawn into political issues because of the divisions that are being fomented in the U.S.

It's much harder for a corporation to now do what Michael Jordan once did when he maintained a steadfastly neutral stance on political issues.

The contrast today is LeBron James, who takes every opportunity to say what he thinks about the Trump régime. And say it very, very clearly.

Similarly, corporations have increasingly been forced (or chosen) to take stances on everything from North Carolina's bathroom law to the president's immigration bill.

Theirs is a belief that they need to be on the right side of history -- and of many of their younger employees who believe that corporations should have a social mission, not just a money-grabbing purpose. 

Some CEOs, like Salesforce's Marc Benioff border on the sanctimonious with their zeal for social change.

Others, like Apple's Tim Cook try -- and sometimes fail -- to take humanistic stances on behalf of their companies. 

United and Delta have already been joined by rental car companies Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, National and many others in distancing themselves from an organization that thinks it wise to arm teachers.

Of course, social media has played an important role.

The Parkland students have shown that they are extremely adept at using Facebook and Twitter to present their arguments. 

The hashtag #BoycottNRA is extremely active.

Moreover, in an appearance at a CNN Town Hall earlier this week, the students made politicians and an NRA spokewoman look like the craven representatives of a twisted morality.

Which, some might say, is precisely what too many of them are. 

Corporations see this and want to be on the right side of (what they see as) the prevailing winds. 

Personally, having grown up in a culture in which guns simply weren't a thing, it's impossible to explain to many friends in America that you can have a successful society without as many guns in circulation as there are here. 

Why would, indeed, any civilian need a semi-automatic weapon, unless it's to use it at a strictly controlled shooting range? 

Airlines and other corporations beginning to distance themselves from the gun lobby won't change things overnight.

Their sudden stances do, though, suggest that they believe a change is going to come.

Published on: Feb 24, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.