AMERICAS – Reed Exhibitions USA is banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines from its hunting and outdoor event, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, in a bid to avoid negative publicity.
The annual exhibition, which Reed touts as North America’s largest outdoor hunting and fishing event, is a celebration of North America’s hunting and fishing traditions, held on 2-10 February at the State Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg PA. The show features 1,200 exhibitors offering a diverse range of products from outfitters to fishing boats and recreational vehicles, archery to art and clothes to cabins.
However, this year Reed is cancelling the tactical gun and accessories section planned to occupy the Wild West Hall, and tactical weapons, high capacity magazines, supporting brochures and documentation, will not be allowed at the show.
The organiser’s decision follows Barack Obama’s announcement last week on new gun control measures, widely acknowledged as the US President’s response to recent shootings in America, including the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school on 14 December. An assault rifle was the principal weapon used at Sandy Hook.
“Clearly, we strongly support the Second Amendment,” said Reed in a statement on the show’s website. “However, this year we have made the decision not to include certain products that in the current climate may attract negative attention that would distract from the strong focus on hunting and fishing at this family-oriented event and possibly disrupt the broader positive experience of our guests.
“As a hunting-focused event, we welcome exhibitors who wish to showcase products and firearms that serve the traditional needs of the sport,” it added.
But the National Rifle Association (NRA) issued its own statement claiming it “strongly disagrees” with Reed Exhibitions’ decision to ban “modern sporting rifles” from the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, and that the decision “has come as a surprise and concern”.
“We encourage all attendees to stand and fight for the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens and not cower from our principles in the face of media pressure,” the association said in a statement. “We urge you to follow the NRA and the outdoor industry’s lead by voicing your displeasure with Reed Exhibitions both before and during the show, and encourage them to reconsider their position.”
Reed’s decision has already resulted in the withdrawal of a number of exhibitors, with North American hunting and fishing retailer Cabela’s Inc confirming on Saturday it will no longer take part in the event.
The NRA urged Reed to reconsider its position, adding that its future participation in the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show “will be determined by Reed Exhibitions’ actions in response to the concerns raised by the NRA, the outdoor industry, and America’s law-abiding gun owners”.
“While this decision has come as a surprise and concern, we have made a commitment to our members in Pennsylvania and surrounding states and are eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to interact with as many as 250,000 fellow hunters and sportsmen,” said the NRA in its statement.
Reed recently announced a partnership with the Indonesian Ceramic Industry Association (ASAKI) on a new event for the ceramics industry in Jakarta.
Do you have a news story for EW? Email firstname.lastname@example.org