Comedian Jay Leno announced this week that he will not be appearing at the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show that will take place in January 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The show is run by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and is considered the biggest and most comprehensive trade show in those industries. Leno had been previously booked to perform at the State of the Industry Dinner, but abruptly canceled after what organizers called “bullying political tactics” from gun control groups.
“We are clearly disappointed by Jay Leno’s decision not to perform at the 2015 SHOT Show State of the Industry Dinner,” announced the NSSF in a press release. “He unilaterally cancelled his promised appearance due to pressure from the anti-gun lobby, which included false statements about our industry and its commitment to genuine firearms safety, which we attempted to personally correct with him, but to no avail.”
Gun control organizations only recently discovered that the comedian, formerly the host of The Tonight Show, was set to perform at the trade show. Organizations such as the Newtown Action Alliance and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence immediately criticized Leno’s decision to appear, and drafted a online petition for him to cancel his performance.
“Jay Leno is a nationally-recognized figure who recently received the 17th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. By lending his name to the NSSF, he is helping to legitimize a crass commercialism which values profit over human lives. The SHOT Show is the largest firearms trade show in the world. Its sole purpose is to allow manufacturers to market their wares; and it provides no voice to those whose lives have been destroyed by a loosely-regulated industry,” read the petition, which was posted on the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s website.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America also ran a social media campaign focused on getting the comedian’s attention called #JokesOnLeno. In less than 24 hours, Po Murray, the executive director of the Newtown Alliance, reported that Leno called her to inform her of the cancellation.
“Jay Leno now stands with the majority of Americans who support common sense gun laws,” read a statement from Moms Demand Action. “Moms across the country are thanking Jay for making the right decision.”
Many of Leno’s fans, however, are not as happy with the cancellation. People who looked forward to Leno’s appearance at SHOT show, or simply fans who supported gun rights, took to Leno’s Facebook page to vent their disappointment.
“By caving to a few loudmouth activists, you have disappointed over 100 MILLION gun owners,” posted one fan.
The NSSF will now be looking for another performer to fill Leno’s spot.