(Forbes)—The media is missing the real story behind the “postponement” of the largest outdoor show in America. This is a story of ignorance, bias and a gross misunderstanding of America and Americans.
This unfortunate fight began when Reed Exhibitions, a British events organizing company, announced that firearms and products associated with modern sporting rifles (guns the media has given the dubious label “assault rifles”) wouldn’t be allowed at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show. The show was scheduled to begin on February 2 in Harrisburg, Penn.
Reed Exhibitions prohibition also extended to images of modern sporting rifles. They wanted to whitewash a firearm category with Orwellian zeal from the show because they deem these semi-automatic rifles to be too militaristic for civilian use. They mandated this ban at America’s largest outdoor show, a show that regularly attracts 200,000 outdoor enthusiasts and pumps an estimated $44 million into the region’s economy.
Outdoor product manufacturers, outfitters from across the country and world, conservation organizations and more come to Harrisburg each year for it. Many find it so overwhelming they complain about it. It’s nine-days long and is a very busy show that can be grueling for an exhibitor.
For perspective, consider that Pennsylvania has about one million active deer hunters. Many more are in surrounding states. Many other gun owners, fishermen and more come to see new firearms, book with outfitters or just to see the show. The people who come pay an entry fee before entering the miles of aisles to look at new gear, buy products and to attend outdoor seminars on duck calling, elk hunting and fly tying. They are a dedicated consumer base in ball caps, camo jackets, and with pictures of last year’s bucks in their wallets.
Years ago when I first started editing for Outdoor Life magazine my boss urged me to go. He said, “People drive for hundreds of miles to go to the Harrisburg show. Go and you’ll see the America we put out a magazine for each month. You’ll see the America the media here in New York City and more doesn’t understand.”