Protests Force Postponement of Harrisburg Gun Show

A casualty of the post-Sandy Hook culture war: The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, planned to start Feb. 2 in Harrisburg, has been delayed in the face of protests over the display—or lack of—of firearms there.

Organizers posted the announcement to the show’s website today:

Reed Exhibitions has decided to postpone, for now, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show given the controversy surrounding its decision to limit the sale or display of modern sporting rifles (also called ARs) at the event. The show was scheduled to take place February 2-10 in Harrisburg, PA.

“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. “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.

“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. 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.

“ESS has long been proud to participate in the preservation and promotion of hunting and fishing traditions, and we hope that as the national debate clarifies, we will have an opportunity to consider rescheduling the event when the time is right to focus on the themes it celebrates.”

MSRs, to clarify, generally refers to “modular sniper rifles.” Which aren’t used often in hunting. But pro-gun activists were angered by the decision to keep such rifles out of the event, and pulled their support from the show, even as rallies on both sides of the gun debate occurred in Harrisburg. No word on when the show might be rescheduled. [Fox 29]

Updated to clarify that pro-gun protests forced the show’s postponement.