Reed's brave stand
In our view
The decision by Reed Exhibitions USA to postpone this year's Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show at the state Farm Show Complex in the wake of a vendor boycott is a costly example of doing the right thing.
The boycott erupted two weeks ago after Reed officials announced that vendors would not be allowed to sell or display AR-style weapons or large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Chet Burchett, president of Reed's USA, issued a statement that read: "In the current climate, we felt that the presence of [modern sporting rifles] would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests."
That prompted dozens of vendors, including several from Lancaster County, to pull out of the show. Most cited Second Amendment concerns. Several vendors, who took no stand on the boycott, also pulled out. While they did not state their reasons specifically, the implication was that they feared a backlash if they exhibited at the show.
The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show is billed as the largest of its kind in the Northeast. It typically attracts 1,400 vendors, many from outside of Pennsylvania. The Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau said the show contributes $44 million to Central Pennsylvania's economy. Other accounts suggest the nine-day show generates more than $80 million annually.
For some vendors, the show has served as their version of "Black Friday" because of the volume of sales and potential customers with whom they interact.
Hunting and outdoors shows are but a small fraction of Reed's business. The company holds more than 500 events annually in 39 countries.
Ironically, Reed organized the SHOT Show in Las Vegas two weeks ago, which included AR-15 rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines. But the exhibitor, whose American offices are located just 30 miles from Newtown, Conn., opted not to allow those weapons at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.
That led a Western Pennsylvania vendor to call for a boycott that ultimately closed down a show that will have a significant economic impact on hundreds of vendors. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.
Although hunting is a valued tradition in Pennsylvania, hunters may not hunt with semi-automatic weapons.
The Second Amendment is limited. Just ask the U.S. Supreme Court. What those limits preclude is now the question. Closing down a hunting/fishing/ outdoor event does nothing to add to the debate. Absolutists on both sides of the issue ultimately stand to lose unless they act like adults and begin the discussions.
Critics blame the closing on Reed Exhibitions' decision. But by standing its ground, Reed has added impetus to the movement to require state and federal lawmakers to address Second Amendment limits.