By Keri Butt, D&DH Contributor
Hordes of hunting industry manufacturers and TV personalities are thumbing their noses at a one of the country’s largest sports show promoters because the event is taking a hard stance on, among other things, modern sporting rifles.
The promoters of the popular Harrisburg outdoor show announced late last week they would not allow certain firearms to be displayed at the event in early February. Manufacturers and hunting industry celebrities took this as a pointed message against the Second Amendment. As a result, manufacturers and TV personalities are now boycotting the show and are urging consumers to do the same.
By boycotting the show, the manufacturers and seminar speakers will be walking away from a significant portion of their annual incomes.
Reed Exhibitions, owner of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, issued this press release on Jan. 17:
“The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show is a unique celebration of the authentic hunting and fishing traditions that are cherished by millions of Americans and their families.
“We are proud to celebrate these pastimes by featuring 1,200 exhibitors offering a diverse range of products from outfitters to fishing boats and RVs, from archery to art and from clothes to cabins.
“As a hunting-focused event, we welcome exhibitors who wish to showcase products and firearms that serve the traditional needs of the sport.
“Clearly, we strongly support the Second Amendment.
“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.
“ESS is proud to participate in the preservation and promotion of the rich hunting and fishing tradition passed from generation to generation by American families.”
TV Personalities Unite for Gun Owners
It’s unsure if those responsible for this official announcement anticipated the swarm of negative media attention that enveloped them within a mere two days of issuing the release, when vendors and hunting’s television personalities began pulling their names along with their credentials from the show’s roster. More than likely, they did not.
Statement by Pat Reeve
Pat Reeve, co-host of Driven TV, along with his wife Nicole, spoke candidly with Deer and Deer Hunting earlier today:
“We don’t feel like it was a good position to take on their part. I’m baffled at why they would take such an approach when their entire consumer base is comprised of hunters. Even more baffling is that they believe that those consumers would find their decision acceptable. We, along with everyone else who pulled out of the show, stand to lose a lot of money, but it’s more important that we have to stand up for what we believe in. Nicole feels the exact same way.
“All of us (TV people) have banded together and are supporting each other in the decision to back out of the Eastern Sports Show. We all want and need to make the statement that we believe in our Second Amendment rights and will stand up for them no matter what.
Statement by Lee Lakosky
Lee and Tiffany Lakosky of The Crush TV show, made the tough decision to step out from the show’s lineup as well. Lakosky also talked with Deer and Deer Hunting today:
“This was a hard decision, not because of the show and what they did, but that we won’t have the opportunity to talk and shake hands with the fans that will be at the show,” he said. “But, we can’t support a show that doesn’t completely support the Second Amendment.”
Lee and Tiffany were at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas when they heard the news of the press release, but because of obvious time restrictions, weren’t able to act immediately. “Right away when we heard, we figured we’d pull out of the show, but wanted to make sure we knew all the facts first. As soon as we learned what was happening, we made the choice not to go.”
Lakosky also commented on the press release from the National Shooting Sports Foundation:
“I don’t know why the NSSF would promote this ban just to please one vendor out of twelve hundred,” he said. “Anyone who believes this isn’t a big deal is wrong. It is a big deal because this is where it starts. There’s a reason for the Second Amendment and we all need to band together and stand behind it.”
Weishuhn Bows Out
Veteran hunter, writer and TV personality Larry Weishuhn of Texas announced he will not be attending and posted this on his Facebook account Sunday night:
A Personal Statement Regarding the Eastern Sports Show:
As someone who has been in the outdoor industry for many years and has long supported our gun rights both in words and deeds I am tremendously disappointed in Eastern Sports Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and their recent decision regarding firearms!
With many vendors, as well as outdoor celebrities and speakers deciding not to be at the Eastern Sports Show as they have done in years past in an act of unity to support all our gun rights, (because of the show’s decision) it will be the attendees and the Harrisburg community which will be disappointed and hurt most by this action.
I humbly ask these people to be most understanding of my decision not to attend the Eastern Sports Show. My not attending is a personal decision based on my beliefs regarding firearm rights!
I do not personally own or use any of the “guns in question,” but strongly support those who do!
I would ask each and everyone who loves our United States of America and our American outdoor way of life to pray for our beloved country. GOD BLESS AMERICA!”
“Team Shockey” Also Says No
Jim and Eva Shockey released this statement:
“Due to recent decisions made by Reed Exhibitions regarding the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, Jim and Eva Shockey will not attend this year’s event. We have carefully considered the feelings of our fans, customers and business partners in making this decision. We will miss seeing all of our friends who visit us in Harrisburg each year. Thank you for your support and understanding.”
– Team Shockey
NSSF press release:
The National Shooting Sports Foundation strongly disagrees with the decision of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show’s management to disallow the display and sale of Modern Sporting Rifles at its 2013 exhibition. In our discussions with Reed Exhibitions, we have made this very clear. While assuring us that all legally available firearms will be welcome at future Eastern Sports and Outdoor Shows, it was explained that this unfortunate decision was made in response to the planned actions of a single retailer that would have drawn significant unwelcomed media coverage at a time when firearms ownership is being assailed in the media. It is important to note that this year’s show will continue to feature a wide variety of firearms. However . . .
It would be unfair to penalize the 1,200 exhibitors or the some 200,000 sportsmen and women who will attend the show by discouraging participation at a time when the hunting and shooting sports community needs to be united in the face of political challenges. We urge industry exhibitors and attendees to participate in the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show as planned and encourage attendees to visit the Reed Exhibitions booth at the show to share their concerns and to then enjoy the show.
The NRA’s Statement:
The National Rifle Association strongly disagrees with Reed Exhibitions’ decision to ban Modern Sporting Rifles from the Eastern Sports Show in Harrisburg, PA, February 2-10. We encourage Reed Exhibitions to reconsider their position.
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. 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. 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.
The NRA’s future participation in the Eastern Sports & 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.
Contact Reed Exhibitions directly at email@example.com
The Public Agrees
The hunting community has gone crazy on social media sites over Reed Exhibition’s decision. Comments like, “I attend the show every year, but won’t be buying tickets this year,” are being shared all over. One person stated, “I hope the place is a ghost town.” Some say that even if they lift this ban next year, the damage is already done and they won’t attend unless it comes under new management.
What in the Show’s Future?
Any way you look at it, this is a media nightmare for the Reed Exhibition management.
Hunting TV personalities such as Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo of Archer’s Choice, and Fred and Michele Eichler of Muzzy products and owners of Full Draw Outfitters, have also opted not to make an appearance at the show. A growing list of vendors is also backing out, as they all stick together in order to make their point clear: Any type of infringement of our Second Amendment rights, rights that protect all other freedoms, will not be tolerated.
— Keri Butt is a freelance contributor from Illinois.
(Updated 1/20/13 at 10:15 p.m. CT and 1/21/13 at 6:30 p.m. CT by Managing Editor Alan Clemons)