You don’t mess with gun owners or the Second Amendment. That’s what Reed Exhibitions, a U.K. based company just learned after not allowing modern sporting rifles (ARs) or similar firearms and accessories to be displayed and sold at their upcoming Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show slated to run Feb. 2-10 at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.
Within the last two days, close to 200 exhibitors and seminar personalities said they were boycotting the show and would not attend unless Reed Exhibitions had a change of policy. And the list included biggies like Cabela’s, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Weatherby, TenPoint Archery, the NWTF, RMEF, Crimson Trace, Trijicon and most recently, the NRA.
Reed Exhibitions issued the following statement on the show to the media today, January 24, 2013:
Reed Exhibitions today announced it has decided to postpone, for now, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show given the controversy surrounding the company’s decision to limit the sale or display of assault rifles at the event. The show was scheduled to take place Feb. 2-10 in Harrisburg, PA.
“Our original decision not to include certain products in the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show this year was made in order to preserve the event’s historical focus on the hunting and fishing traditions enjoyed by American families,” said Chet Burchett,’ Reed Exhibitions President for the Americas. “In the current climate, we felt that the presence of MSRs would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests. This was intended simply as a product decision, of the type event organizers need to make every day.”
“It has become very clear to us after speaking with our customers that the event could not be held because the atmosphere of this year’s show would not be conducive to an event that is designed to provide family enjoyment. It is unfortunate that in the current emotionally charged atmosphere this celebratory event has become overshadowed by a decision that directly affected a small percentage of more than 1,000 exhibits showcasing products and services for those interested in hunting and fishing.”
“ESS has long been proud to participate in the preservation and promotion of hunting and fishing traditions, and we hope that as the national debate clarifies, we will have an opportunity to consider rescheduling the event when the time is right to focus on the themes it celebrates.”
According to a press release from the Professional Outdoor Media Association based in Johnstown, PA announcing the shows’ postponement, POMA said that the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) was in intense, frank discussions with Reed management in an effort to reverse this unacceptable decision. These discussions, said NSSF, reached an impasse.
The NSSF is no way affiliated with, nor does it participate in or exhibit at this show in any way. Reed does however, manage the NSSF-owned Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor, Trade (SHOT) show, but all SHOT show decisions, policies and actions are made at NSSF’s direction.
The release goes on to say that because of Reed’s recent actions, NSSF is considering all options regarding the management of future SHOT shows.
SHOT, incidentally, is not open to the public. It’s a buying, order placing show for gun and sporting goods dealers big and small, the military and law enforcement. And SHOT undoubtedly displays the largest selection of modern sports rifles and fully automatic firearms for the military and law enforcement.
Jim Shepherd, editor of The Outdoor Wire national web newsletter said, “Reed Exhibitions just might have drawn – unintentionally – a figurative line in the sand. They’re large enough that while the Eastern Show fiasco might have a price, it will be more embarrassing than fiscally punishing. But here’s a critical truth: for some of the companies, the decision to pull out of this show comes at a terrific cost. For cottage businesses, from handmade duck calls to custom knives, withdrawing from this 9-day extravaganza is deliberately putting your business in financial peril.”
Except for a couple days when the show closed early due to a heavy snowfall, the “Harrisburg Show” as it’s called, has never been cancelled in its 50-year existence.
To automatically receive outdoor news and views from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.