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Reed Exhibitions: Next Shoe To Drop?

by Robert W. Hunnicutt   |  January 25th, 2013 2

Reed Exhibitions has indefinitely postponed the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show after its policy forbidding black guns or even pictures of them sparked a cascade of cancellations. The boycott was immediately credited or blamed, depending on who was reporting the story, on the NRA, but it was actually initiated by a website,

Regardless who gets the scalp, the pressure is now firmly on the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which owns the SHOT Show with Reed as the show manager. NSSF commented on the ESOS flap as follows:

“We have just learned that Reed Exhibitions has decided to postpone the 2013 Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.

In the days following Reed Exhibitions’ announcement that modern sporting rifles would be prohibited from the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, the leadership of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has been in intense, frank discussions with Reed Exhibitions management in an effort to reverse this unacceptable decision. These discussions reached an impasse.

NSSF is in no way affiliated with, nor does it participate in or exhibit at this show in any way. Reed Exhibitions does, however, manage the NSSF-owned SHOT Show (though Reed manages the SHOT Show, all SHOT Show decisions, policies and actions are made at NSSF’s direction).

Because of Reed’s recent actions, NSSF is considering all options regarding the management of future SHOT Shows.”

Now, Reed’s management of the SHOT Show has been a matter of controversy for years. Andy Molchan, publisher of American Firearms Industry, tried to start a rival show more than 15 years ago on the general grounds that Reed was a bunch of probably anti-gun foreigners who couldn’t be trusted. He was way ahead of his time on that one; his show lasted only a couple of years.

But NSSF is going to be under great pressure from manufacturers, dealers and other stakeholders in the SHOT Show to find new management if Reed won’t relent in its hard-to-understand policy. Giving Reed the ax won’t be easy: the SHOT Show is one of the top 10 shows in the country, and running it requires a cast of hundreds.

NSSF, given its own wobbly past on the subject of black guns (years ago they weren’t allowed at SHOT, then later were confined to a ghetto at the edge of the show) will need to take a hard line on this subject. And it has to be said that in recent years, the organization has gone all in for what it calls “modern sporting rifles.” It now will need to manifest that support in what could be a very painful way.

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