Reed Exhibitions is a British firm that sponsors one of the largest gun shows on the east coast, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It draws 200,000 people and 1,000 exhibitors (at $1,000 each, minimum) and was supposed to open next weekend.
But Reed decided to get cute and go along with the anti-gun crowd by ordering the exhibitors not to display those nasty awful dangerous threatening “assault weapons” that are catching a lot of flak right now. The result was predictable: the exhibitors bailed. Exhibitors who bailed included Cabela’s, Rough Country Outfitters, Ruger Firearms, the International Bowhunting Organization, Katahdin’s Shadow Outfitters, Keystone Country Store, Masterpiece Outdoors, Inc., and hundreds more. They shut the thing down.
The NRA is taking credit for shutting it down. It tried to pressure Reed into changing its mind, but a British mind, once it is made up, is difficult to change. Said the NRA, “Unfortunately [Reed] has steadfastly refused to do so. As a result the NRA will not be participating in the upcoming show in Harrisburg or any other shows hosted by Reed Exhibitions that maintain this policy.”
Reed issued a mealy mouth “explanation”:
Reed Exhibitions has decided to postpone, for now, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show given the controversy surrounding its decision to limit the sale or display of modern sporting rifles (also called ARs) at the event. The show was scheduled to take place February 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 ARs 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.”
Let’s see: how much is 1,000 exhibitors times $1,000? Hmm. Times how many shows? Hmm.