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Eastern outdoors show in Harrisburg postponed by Ron Kolodziej

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - Updated: 9:19 AM

I don’t know how many of you at least occasionally attend the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, PA, though I know some of you do because on several of my infrequent visits to that show I’ve met sportsmen from Hamilton County specifically and the north country in general.

The show is billed as the largest of its kind in the eastern US and I will admit that to do it any justice and to avail yourself of all it offered, you had to attend it for at least two days because it’s that big. In any event, this year Reed Exhibitions, the show’s producer, decided that, in view of Presidents Obama’s “Executive Action” regarding “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines - any high capacity magazines - the show would not allow any display of those items , not even photos. Well, the hue and cry from many exhibitors and their supporters was immediate and strong, with many of the exhibitors deciding to pull their displays out of the show. This response snowballed, forcing the show to be postponed for the first time in its 58 year history.

To give you an idea of how many and which exhibitors pulled out, at last count that number was over 300 , roughly one-quarter of those scheduled to be there, and those drop-outs included, in part: Bear Archery, Bohning Archery, Bone Collectors,, Cabela’s, Campbell Cameras, Cold Steel Knives, Eastern Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, Eastern Outdoors, Eddie Salter, Hunter’s Specialties, National Rifle Association, International Bowhunting Organization (IBO), Jim Shockey, Larry Weishuhn, Smith & Wesson, National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Outdoor Channel Outfitters, PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, PA Taxidermy Association, Primos Hunting Calls, Rhino Outdoors, Savage Outdoors, Trijicon Outdoors and Woodcock Limited of PA.  Remember, that’s only a partial list.

According to a press release I received last Thursday, Jan. 24, from their PR firm, “Reed Exhibitions today announced it has decided to postpone, for now, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show given the controversy surrounding the company’s decision to limit the sale or display of assault rifles at the event. The show was scheduled to take place February 2-10 in Harrisburg, PA.” There’s no mention of any alternate dates for the show but I suspect the organizers are hoping the controversy will subside. Incidentally, Reed Exhibitions is a British firm.

In short, if you were planning to attend the show, don’t go. Instead, go ice fishing or snow shoeing.

While few of the above-cited exhibitors manufacture or sell the so-called assault rifles (now called Modern Sporting Rifles) they nonetheless felt some kinship with those that did and their abandoning the show was more a sympathetic move than anything else. I spoke with one exhibitor that dropped out and he rightfully said “Today it’s AR15’s and the like, but who knows what they’ll do next time.” I agree with him. I’ve said it before - give the anti’s an inch and they’ll take a mile. Those who favor the outlawing or limitation of “black guns” call these moves “common sense” rules but none of them can define “common sense”. It’s all in the eye of the beholder I guess. What they call common sense makes no sense to most of us.

Let’s say you own an AR15 that you bought many years ago for varmint hunting and target shooting. You can keep that AR15 if you first register it with the State Police. However, even if it’s rarely removed from your gun cabinet, every time a .223 caliber shell casing is found at a crime scene you’ll get a visit from the gendarmes wanting to check your weapon to see if it has been fired recently. Unless, of course, they establish a COBIS-like system to check the markings on your expended casings. If not quasi-COBIS then certainly “microstamping” at the very least.

A Second Amendment rally has been scheduled for Feb. 28 at 10:30 am in the Well of the Legislative Office Building in Albany. Similar gathering have also been scheduled for Buffalo and Suffolk County. Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, attend one of these rallies and meet your legislators to express your views.


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