Reed's Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show Postponed After Assault Weapon Ban Outcry
Reed Exhibitions’ decision to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines at its upcoming Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show and the ensuing outcry not only from exhibitors and the National Rifle Association, but also the National Shooting Sports Foundation – owner of Reed-produced SHOT Show, has led to the postponement of the ESOS.
“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.
He added, “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.”
The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show was scheduled to run Feb. 2-10 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg, Penn.
“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,” Burchett said.
He added, “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.”
In response to the ban, Cabela’s, a show sponsor and exhibitor, was one of several reported companies that decided to pull out of the show.
Cabela’s released a statement regarding its decision on the company’s Facebook page: “Due to recent changes made by Reed Exhibitions regarding the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, Cabela’s will no longer sponsor this year’s event. 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.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation also released a statement indicating they had been in “frank discussions with Reed Exhibitions management in an effort to reverse this unacceptable decision” regarding the ban, adding “these discussions reached an impasse.”
In addition, NSSF officials said the organization is not affiliated with the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.
“Reed Exhibitions does, however, manage the NSSF-owned SHOT Show (though Reed manages the SHOT Show, all SHOT Show decisions, policies and actions are made at NSSF’s direction).” NSSF officials added, “Because of Reed’s recent actions, NSSF is considering all options regarding the management of future SHOT Shows.”
SHOT Show recently wrapped up at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, with a record 62,371 attendees.
The National Rifle Association, which typically has three booths at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show - one for Membership, one for Hunter Services and one for NRAblog, also posted a message on its Web site indicating it, too, tried to convince Reed to reverse its ban decision, adding, “unfortunately they have steadfastly refused to do so.”
The NRA statement continued: “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. We are disappointed that Reed Exhibitions has ignored the concerns expressed by attendees, the outdoor industry and the NRA in not reconsidering their position to ban the display of Modern Sporting Rifles.”
Reed has not as of yet responded for further comment.