The list of exhibitors who have pulled out of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show is now more than 200, but Reed Exhibitions, the British-owned proprietor of the Harrisburg, Pa., show, is not relenting in its prohibition against black rifles (and even pictures of them).
The tally of the departed includes Ruger, Savage, Smith & Wesson and Trijicon; all those you’d expect. You might be less likely to expect the National Wild Turkey Federation or the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. You might be even more surprised to hear that archery giants Easton and Hoyt, along with suppliers like Hunter’s Specialties and Primos Calls, have decamped.
In fact, a quick perusal of the roll of boycott supporters shows more from the archery and pure hunting markets than from the firearms industry.
This is a very, very gratifying thing to see. The ESOS is a very important event to many of these exhibitors. It is positively vital to a lot of outfitters. It would have been very easy for lot of them to say “not my fight.” Instead, they are standing firm with us. The show will go on: there’s only so much help you can expect from the camping or fishing industries. But there are going to be some large and embarrassing gaps, and even giant Reed is going to feel some revenue loss.
One of the fondest hopes of the anti-gunners is that they can drive wedges within the gun community. They really believe that most hunters are just harmless Fudds who would be perfectly content with a double shotgun and a 94 Winchester if it weren’t for the gun manufacturers and the NRA pushing pistols and black guns on them. They have tried, inevitably with great fanfare in the press, to found a series of quisling groups intended to “give a voice to hunters who favor common-sense gun safety measures:” all have been crashing failures.
If there is one lesson the U.S. gun community has absorbed from the examples of Australia, Britain and other countries where the right to bear arms has been extinguished, it is that gun owners have to stick together. You may do no more than pop a few doves once a year, but the guy with a safe full of ARs is your brother. Those who want to take his ARs are your enemy. There can be no compromise with the enemy; if you don’t choose to fight until your particular gun is threatened, you may as well hand it in now.
And, as we are finding, there are some guys with sharp sticks who are brothers, too. It’s good to have them aboard, because we are going to need all the help we can get.