Events organizer Reed Exhibitions announced today that they will be postponing the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show until further notice. The show caused controversy when Reed Exhibitions made a decision to prohibit modern sporting rifles from the event, prompting a large number of vendors to withdraw in the resulting backlash. Notable brands that said they would no longer be attending include Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Mossberg, Cabela’s, and the National Rifle Association.
In a press release, Smith & Wesson CEO James Bedney said, “We support the Second Amendment and the rights of our law-abiding customers to purchase (sporting rifles) and all legal firearms. Therefore, we are unable to support any organization or event that prohibits legal firearms, or otherwise restricts a citizen’s lawful and constitutional rights.”
The NRA quickly followed suit in their statement, announcing that the gun-rights organization will not be attending any Reed Exhibitions shows that maintains this policy.
Shortly after the postponement was announced, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) released a statement explaining that the NSSF had been engaging in dialogue with Reed Exhibitions in an attempt to change the show’s stance on modern sporting rifles, but the talks have failed. Reed Exhibitions also manages the yearly Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), the biggest event of this category worldwide. SHOT Show policy and direction is headed by the NSSF, who is currently considering options for the management of future events.
The following is the postponement announcement on Eastern Sports and Outdoor Shows’ official website:
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 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.”
Those seeking an alternative East Coast outdoor show may want to consider attending the NRA Great American Hunting & Outdoor Show, which begins Friday, January 25 at the E-ventplex at the Frederick Fair Grounds in Frederick, Maryland.