New Holland Sportsman's Shop pulls out of outdoors show
Last local major gun dealer to do so BY P.J. REILLY, Staff Writer
On Tuesday afternoon, The Sportsman's Shop in New Holland was the last major gun dealer from Lancaster County still scheduled to attend the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg.
On Tuesday evening, owner Joe Keffer pulled the plug.
"As a member of the Board of Governors of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, I have been working, in good faith, with Reed to find a compromise to allow the show to continue at the caliber to which my fellow exhibitors, manufacturers and the more than 200,000 attendees have come to expect," Keffer wrote on the store's Facebook page.
"After nearly a month of discussions, which concluded (Monday), I believe a compromise will not be reached."
The Sportsman's Shop joins a growing list of nearly 200 exhibitors and celebrities who have backed out of the show since organizer Reed Exhibitions last week announced a ban prohibiting assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines from being sold or even displayed at the show, scheduled for Feb. 2-10 at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.
Reed said the decision was made "not to include certain products that in the current climate may attract negative attention that would distract from the strong focus on hunting and fishing at this family-oriented event and possibly disrupt the broader positive experience of our guests."
Reed officials said there were five firearms retailers affected by the gun ban -- retailers who planned to sell semiautomatic AR-style rifles at the show. Three of those are from Lancaster County -- Trop Gun Shop in Elizabethtown, Kinsey's Outdoors in Mount Joy and The Sportsman's Shop.
Trop and Kinsey's both backed out last week.
The Sportsman's Shop was set to be the featured exhibitor of a popular section of the show called The Sportsman's Shop's Gun Alley, which included 14 firearms and accessories manufacturers.
According to Keffer, when he backed out of the show, all 14 of those other exhibitors left with him. That list includes gunmakers Smith & Wesson, Thompson/Center, Ruger, Benelli, Franchi and Stoeger.
"This was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in business," Keffer said. "I tried to get this thing turned around, and it just didn't happen."
Keffer denounced Reed's ban the day it was announced, but he stayed in the show as an exhibitor, he said, while working to convince Reed officials to change their minds.
"As of (Monday) afternoon, as far as I was concerned, the door was slammed," he said.
Reed officials did not immediately return a reporter's phone calls for comment Tuesday.