Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show Postponed: Organizer Bans Semi-Automatic Firearms, Hundreds Boycott

British-based Reed Exhibitions has "postponed indefinitely" the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show after more than 200 vendors withdrew from the event -- Pennsylvania's largest annual outdoors show -- in protest of its decision to ban the display and sale of semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines.

Reed issued the announcement on its website on Thursday. The nine-day show was scheduled to open Feb. 2 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.

"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 (automatic weapons, high-capacity magazines) 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."

In protest of Reed's "product decision," more than 200 exhibitors withdrew from the show, prompting many to wonder if anyone would show up at all.

Among the departed: The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Cabela's, Inc., the National Wild Turkey Federation, the National Rifle Association, Smith & Wesson, and many local vendors, such as Kinsey's Outdoors of Mount Joy, Lancaster Archery Supply and Trop Gun Shop of Elizabethtown.
Reed Exhibitions is one of the world's largest trade show, consumer exhibition and conference organizers with 500 annual events in 39 countries. Among events produced and managed by Reed is the annual SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show) in Las Vegas hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The NSSF announced on Thursday that it is re-evaluating its relationship with Reed.

"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 (NSSF) has been in intense, frank discussions with Reed Exhibitions management in an effort to reverse this unacceptable decision. These discussions reached an impasse," the NSSF statement reads. "Because of Reed's recent actions, NSSF is considering all options regarding the management of future SHOT Shows."