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NRA Chosen to Manage the Pennsylvania Gun and Outdoor Show


Harrisburg, PA – The National Rifle Association won the bid to  manage the Pennsylvania outdoor show formerly produced by Reed Exhibitions and owned by the Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Hersey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau.

Reed’s decision to ban semi-automatic rifles from the exhibits early this year created a firestorm of opposition, leading to the withdrawal of all but one of its marquee sponsors, all of the big gun manufacturers, numerous gun shop owners and several celebrities scheduled to entertain. On Facebook, pro-gun rights groups called for a boycott of the show. They felt Reed’s decision was counter to their Second Amendment right to bear arms. The controversy led to the postponement of the show.

The consumer show, which had been called the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show, will be rebranded the Great American Outdoor Show and will take place February 1-9, 2014. The NRA, which manages about 50 events in the U.S., including its annual meeting, said it would use its meetings staff to manage the event.

“The NRA’s heritage in the outdoor lifestyle makes this partnership a perfect fit,” said NRA President David Keene. “We look forward to expanding this event by inviting national firearms manufacturers to join more than 1,000 hunting, fishing and camping-related vendors.”

What Led to Reed’s Decision
In the wake of the shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December, Reed Exhibitions, whose U.S. operations are headquartered in Connecticut, decided to ban the display of semi-automatic rifles on the show floor. The Sandy Hook tragedy galvanized public support for broader gun safety laws and led to a vigorous debate over the merits of civilian ownership of “modern sporting rifles” (MSRs) previously called “military assault rifles.”

Chet Burchett, president of Reed Exhibitions Americas, said, “As a hunting-focused event, we welcome exhibitors who wish to showcase products and firearms that serve the traditional needs of the sport. Clearly, we strongly support the Second Amendment. However, this year, we have made the decision 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.” He added, “It has become very clear to us after speaking with our customers that the event could not be held because the atmosphere of this year’s show would not be conducive to an event that is designed to provide family enjoyment.”

Tremendous Losses: Contract Repercussions, Lost Sales, Economic Impact
The decision over the ban on MSRs at the show caused an uproar and led to the postponement of the February 1-9, 2013 event.  “When the show was cancelled in February, it cost the local economy more than $80 million and devastated many local businesses,” said Jeff Haste, chairman of the Dauphin County Board of Commissioners. “The Great American Outdoor Show has the potential to a draw bigger crowd and offer more educational programs and family-friendly entertainment.”

NRA Won’t Allow Gun Sales at Show
The NRA said that while controversial weapons will again be on display in Harrisburg, they will not be for sale. Physical gun sales do not take place at any NRA events, the association said.

Management of The SHOT Show Under Review
Reed organizes the SHOT, The Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show on behalf of the National Shooting Sports Foundation every year in Las Vegas. The 2011 event was No. 16 on the Trade Show Executive Gold 100 rankings at 660,000 net square feet. This year’s show in January covered 628,675 nsf. Following the controversial decision, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), owner and sponsor of the SHOT Show, issued a statement saying it is “considering all options regarding the management of future SHOT Shows.”  [For the full story, go to the “The Trade Show Vault” at]

Reach NRA Show Manager Jeffrey Poole at (703) 267-3785 or; Jeff Haste at (717) 780-6300 or

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