Reed Exhibitions is still paying a price for banning semiautomatic rifles from the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show in Harrisburg this year.
Less than a month after the National Rifle Association was picked to put on a new show in Harrisburg to replace Reed’s event, the National Shooting Sports Foundation announced Friday that it was dropping Reed as promoter of its Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show.
Held annually in Las Vegas, the SHOT Show, as it’s commonly called, is the world’s largest professional trade show for the shooting industry.
The NSSF cited Reed’s Harrisburg show ban — a move that spawned massive threats of a boycott and ultimately forced Reed to cancel the popular event — as its reason for dumping the global promotions company.
Reed’s “decision to restrict the sale of certain types of firearms this year at its consumer hunting and fishing show — an event unrelated to NSSF and the SHOT Show — was in conflict with NSSF’s mission to serve the shooting sports industry,” the NSSF stated in a news release.
“As a result, both organizations decided it was in the best interest of the SHOT Show to end their relationship.”
Reed had been the promoter of SHOT for more than three decades, according to the NSSF, the trade association for the firearms industry.
“The thought was that since the industry and the industry’s customers viewed what occurred in Harrisburg as a Second Amendment issue, then for the organization that represents the industry’s manufacturers and retailers to be in an ongoing business relationship with Reed would have been problematic,” said Joe Keffer, owner of The Sportsman’s Shop in New Holland, who attends the SHOT Show every year.
The Sportsman’s Shop was among the exhibitors at the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show that threatened to boycott this year’s event, which was scheduled for Feb. 2-10 at the State Farm Show Complex, after Reed announced a ban on the sale and display of semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The ban was announced in the weeks following the Dec. 14 massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., by a man allegedly armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
As word of the ban spread, hundreds of exhibitors and celebrities slated to appear at the Eastern Sports show vowed to boycott the event.
Less than two weeks before the show was to begin, Reed canceled it.
Local politicians and business leaders say the cancellation cost the region about $70 million.
Reed owns the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show and its name, but the company rented the Farm Show Complex from the state Department of Agriculture to hold the event.
In the weeks following the show’s cancellation this year, Reed made no attempt to set up the show for next year. So state officials began seeking a new promoter to put on a new show.
On April 16, it was announced the NRA will hold the Great American Outdoor Show next Feb. 1-9 at the Farm Show Complex.