Organizers of a Pennsylvania outdoors gun show have cancelled the event after a backlash over a ban on assault rifles.
The nine-day Eastern Sports and Outdoor show was scheduled to begin in Harrisburg on Feb. 2. In a notice posted on its web site, Reed Exhibitions said an "emotionally charged atmosphere" had been created that would make it impossible to hold an event "designed to provide family enjoyment."
The company’s reasons for a ban were laid out in a statement issued by Chet Burchett, Reed Exhibitions' regional president.
"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," he said.
Burchett said banning “modern sporting rifles” was "a product decision ... of the type event organizers need to make every day."
According to Burchett, most of the show’s 1,000 exhibits would have been unaffected by the ban.
Reed Exhibitions said the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting prompted the ban. Initially, the company claimed the decision was made because of concerns that the "current climate" would distract from the emphasis on hunting and fishing "and possibly disrupt the broader positive experience of our guests."
Burchett hasn’t ruled out re-staging the Eastern Sports and Outdoor show.
"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," he said.
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