Tradeshow Company’s Anti-Gun Actions Galvanize Firearms and Hunting Industry

Exhibitor backlash resulting from policy banning AR-type rifles causes Reed Exhibitions to "postpone" Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.

By J.R. Absher (RSS)
January 24, 2013

Within days of an announcement by Reed Exhibitions that vendors offering legal AR-platform rifles, accessories, magazines and related items would not be permitted at next month’s Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show (the “Harrisburg Show”), more than 300 manufacturers, retailers, outfitters, organizations and personalities announced their withdrawal from the event in a united support of the Second Amendment.

Under increasing pressure from those exhibitors, as well as from leaders in the firearms and outdoor industry, UK-based Reed, the world’s largest producer of trade shows and events, announced early Jan. 24 that it “decided to postpone” the show.

The annual exhibition—touted as North America’s largest outdoors, hunting and fishing event—was scheduled for Feb. 2-10 at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA. Each year the consumer-selling show features more than 1,000 exhibitors offering products ranging from archery equipment and firearms to guided hunting trips and fishing boats, in addition to all types of gear and related outdoors items.

Reed’s announcement to prohibit the exhibit and sale of modern sporting rifles and accessories came just hours after President Barack Obama outlined his recommendations to restrict the manufacture and sale of certain firearms and accessories in response to recent tragic events.

The posting of the divisive depiction of modern sporting rifles on the show’s website last week as “products that in the current climate may attract negative attention,” effectively drew a line in the sand, one that many exhibitors who count themselves as strident supporters of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution eagerly crossed.

As a result, Reed’s decision to prohibit vendors from showing and selling perfectly legal firearms and accessories was met with outrage—and immediate action—by many companies having a long and supportive history with the event, including a number of non-firearms companies, conservation groups and retailers of archery and bowhunting items.

One of the first companies to withdraw sponsorship and support was mega-outdoors retailer Cabela’s.

“After careful consideration regarding Cabela’s business practices, and the feelings of our customers, Cabela’s will, unfortunately, not have a presence at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show,” read the company’s official statement posted on Saturday, Jan 19.

And on Jan. 22, the NRA officially announced it was withdrawing from the show.

“We had called on Reed Exhibitions to reconsider their decision; unfortunately they have steadfastly refused to do so,” read the NRA statement. “As a result, the NRA will not be participating in the upcoming show in Harrisburg or in any other shows hosted by Reed Exhibitions that maintain this policy.”

With the clarity of the battle lines emerging this week in Harrisburg, the firearms, hunting and shooting sports industry sent a clear message to those favoring additional laws and regulations restricting the tenets of the Second Amendment.

The events unfolding this week in Central Pennsylvania have clearly galvanized a diverse array of companies, organizations and individuals around a common objective—the protection of gun rights and firearms ownership for law-abiding Americans.

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