Sports show’s decision to pull guns sets a bad precedent


What was to be the annual big event of the year for sport show fans may be at death’s door. Indeed, the Eastern Sport and Outdoor Show was scheduled to run this week in Harrisburg, Pa. as it has for years, but an ugly turn of events kept the sprawling Pa. state capital farm complex dark instead of teaming with expected activity.

Keep in mind that this show alone, has become renown as the place to shop for outdoor adventures and the latest in gear, guns, and everything outdoors. Reed Expositions, an international event organizing group that owns or at least manages the show, flashed their gun control face and decided at the last minute to ban modern sporting rifles (MSR) from the show (guns that resemble assault rifles in shape), a move they claimed to be timely given the present mood of the country.

Their assessment of mood may have been a bit off the mark as the National Rifle Association’s turned sour in a hurry. Just days before the show was to open, the NRA, with a curt announcement that it was one organization that would not be part of the show.

And certainly, as goes the NRA so goes thousands of responsible American shooters, hunters and other legal gun owners would will not support an organization (Reed Expositions) that would restrict selective firearms at a show that focuses on the shooting sports.

The NRA said that it would not have a presence at the Eastern Sport Show or any other Reed run shows. In the following hours and days, still prior to the grand opening, additional companies and organizations followed suit by pulling their exhibits and support.

Names like Ruger, Mossberg, Cabela’s, and Smith and Wesson pulled their collective plugs as it’s likely, but not reported, did other exhibitors.Even the National Shooting Sports Association tried to reason with the Reed group with no success. Reed Expositions was forced to close the show before it opened, claiming to simply postpone the event.

Canceling an event of this magnitude presents a significant economic loss to Harrisburg and surrounding area. And the affect on Reed’s presence as a major player in the event planning for the shooting sports may be felt for some time.

Reed has organized the annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade show (S.H.O.T.) held annually in Las Vegas each January, another super-sized show featuring every new firearm, accessory, and gun related piece of gear, an event attended by everyone in the shooting and hunting industry.

The key word here is everyone

Big changes in that venue are almost certain to take place. The Outdoor Hub, a media source for breaking news, reports in a story scribed by Daniel Xu, that a New Mexico coyote hunting contest resulting in the demise of dozens of ‘yotes, has inspired a N.M. state representative to propose a law in favor of the state’s dense population of coyotes.

In his opinion, all contests which feature the killing of animals must be outlawed and punishable by sizable fines and thus goes far beyond protecting mange-ridden coyotes.

Of course the New Mexico lawmaker will gain the financial and vocal support of every animal rights group in the world, but he may meet some opposition from those who sponsor big buck and turkey contests, turkey shoots (even though the bird has been frozen for weeks), big dollar tagged pheasant hunts, fishing tournaments and the list goes on.

The claws of such a law could be extreme if it passes, possibly carrying to state awards for trophy fish and so much more. One never knows what a state house heated by the fuel of politics will do.

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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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