This isn’t quite a Cabela’s level exit from the East Coast’s (previously) largest sportmen’s show since Cabela’s was an actual sponsor instead of just an exhibitor, but it is very close because of the major profile of the company.
Ruger addresses the concern that so many smaller vendors have about pulling out of this show. It’s not that they don’t support the Second Amendment, it’s that the can often see the difference between profit and loss for the entire year based on the sales at this single show.
One such company is GUTNTAG, a Pennsylvania company that I found mentioned in one of the many headline stories about regional exhibitors pulling out. Their statement says that they are really true believers in the Second Amendment even though they sell cooking seasonings:
We have made the costly decision to withdraw because it is the right thing to do. We are a young company that relies on this one venue to create our operating capital for the year; however we cannot support uninformed businesses caving to political pressures caused by broadly politicized events. We proudly support the 2nd Amendment in the capacity for which it was intended; the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. Our freedom to do so was not for hunting or competition shooting, but protection for law abiding citizens.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, â€œNo free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.â€ Friends, if we continue to give in inch-by-inch, we will find ourselves with no protection and a tyrannical government.
With such a strong statement, we decided that we’ll show them some support and buy their seasonings.
I think some of the most interesting reactions have been from folks who are still baffled by NSSF’s request for consumers to continue to support the gun banning exhibition company. This is the take from celebrity hunter Lee Lakosky:
â€œI donâ€™t know why the NSSF would promote this ban just to please one vendor out of twelve hundred,â€ he said. â€œAnyone who believes this isnâ€™t a big deal is wrong. It is a big deal because this is where it starts. Thereâ€™s a reason for the Second Amendment and we all need to band together and stand behind it.â€
Jim Shepherd from The Outdoor Wire had this to say about the statement this morning:
Saying the “hunting and shooting sports community needs to be unified in the face of political challenges” while encouraging attendance at an event which has banned the nation’s most popular and best-selling rifle seems contradictory.
People on Twitter also shared my sentiments when I posted that my first reaction was “WTF?” Granted, The Outdoor Wire adds more to the context in terms of how NSSF may have been limited in how strongly they could condemn Reed Exhibitions, but I don’t think anyone would have complained if they simply cut the last two paragraphs from their statement – the two where they actively encouraged people to give Reed money, even as they ban modern semi-automatic rifles.
TOW notes that as big as many attendees believe that SHOT is for Reed (they manage it on behalf of NSSF), it’s a drop in the bucket compared to their other shows. Hell, even in this industry, the 60,000 people who attend SHOT don’t compare to the estimated 200,000 who attend the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show. And, unlike SHOT, Reed is directly making $14/head for every single one of those attendees, plus the exhibitor fees of many thousands of dollars.
At this point, ESOS is starting to recognize the backlash. They finally removed Cabela’s from their list of sponsors, and they have slowed their advertising promising certain celebrity speakers who has since publicly cancelled. I even saw one newspaper report that said the ESOS spokeswoman was starting to speak again – though she’s not really saying anything more than the original statement and confirming that they do have exhibitors backing out.
For those who still want to let the ESOS know how they feel about the subject – and let them know if they have lost your business as an attendee – here is a repeat listing of the contact information that they pulled down from the ESOS site right as the controversy erupted:
Group Vice President â€“ Ed Several
Phone: 203-840-5932 Fax: 203-840-9932 Email: email@example.com
Event Director â€“ Chris Oâ€™Hara
Phone: 717-368-7487 Fax: 203-840-9868 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Public Relations â€“ Deb Davis
Phone: 717-834-6267 Fax: 717-834-6207 Email: email@example.com
Marketing â€“ Cathy Kitlasz
Phone: 203-840-5871 Fax: 203-840-9781 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I contacted Ms. Davis on behalf of the blog, but she has refused to respond. Of course, we’re not alone. Many media outlets have reported that they are trying to contact her and other Reed spokesmen, but they all refuse to return any calls or emails.
UPDATE: And now minutes after I hit publish, Smith & Wesson announces that they are pulling out of the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show. Wow.