Just the briefest of briefs for you. We reported on the Harrisburg Hunting and Fishing Show’s decision to ban modern sporting rifles and standard-capacity magazines already, but at the time only two small local gun shops had pulled out. That trickle of abandonment has turned into a deluge, as one vendor after another — Ruger was the first big name we heard — has grabbed the eject handle.
The Eastern Sports Show had around 1,200 exhibitors signed up to attend, but, according to Lancaster Online, since Reed Exhibitions altered this year’s show more than 140 groups have opted out of the convention. These include names like Cabelas, Smith & Wesson, Ambush Arms, Leupold, Federal Ammunition, the Outdoor Channel, Trijicon, just to name a few.
Dan also notes that the NRA, once committed to extending its outreach to the show, is now showing signs of withdrawal. It’s got to be a hard decision for NRA leaders. A booth at the show would certainly lead to more memberships, and, cruscially, more volunteers at election time — these are the things that get would-be gun-grabbing politicians’ attention. But one of the biggest perceptions the NRA has to fight, right or wrong, is that it represents the Elmer Fudds to the exclusion of the black-rifle and defensive shooter community.
With the show organizers, the British firm Reed Exhibitions, having gone full Fudd for this show, no decision the NRA makes can escape legitimate criticism — they’re damned whatever they do.
For manufacturers and dealers, the decision is easier. No one in the industry who was around in the 1990s can forget how Smith & Wesson, under its British owners of the time, went all-in for the Clinton Administration’s gun ban proposals. Or how that decision brought Smith to the brink of liquidation.
The industry and market also changed from the first Clinton term. Over a million AR-15s and derivatives are manufactured and sold to the public every year. It’s not only the fastest-growing part of the industry, it’s the youngest part, the part bringing in youthful, new shooters with enthusiasm and disposable income. Smith & Wesson, back from the dead, makes ARs, as do Ruger, Remington, Mossberg and a number of other names found in Elmer Fudd’s gun rack. Along with the Tacticool Tommys, erious hunters have embraced appropriately configured ARs, particularly for predator hunting, varmint hunting, feral hogs and invasive species.
So the gun that urban politicians and outdated industry satraps see as fringe is now the deepest and broadest current in the mainstream. You mess with Evil Black Rifles, and the millions that already own and use them, at your electoral and market peril. You can talk to the Blue Dog Democrats who went down in flames in 1994, or the former owners of S
&W who lost their shirts at a fire sale, about it.
It will be interesting to see where the show goes from here. It looks like it’s on track to be a lot smaller and a disaster for the organizers, but it’s hard to see how they can back down at this point.
In addition to Dan’s great coverage over at Guns.com, the local paper’s online presence, Lancaster Online, has been all over developments in the case. As of 10:55 AM on the 23rd, the list of withdrawn vendors has grown to 170. The list includes every major dealer in Lancaster County, many vendors who have nothing to do with EBRs including bowhunting and muzzleloader specialists, and hunting-show TV personalities.
Local Trop Gun Shop of Elizabethtown, PA, which we believe to have been the first vendor to punch out, is supporting the boycott in depth. They are raffling off a Windham AR to the winner of a drawing. To enter the drawing, bring Trop a receipt from any of the boycotting vendors.