Pressure from anti-gun groups—the Campaign to Unload, Newtown Action Alliance, and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence—convinced entertainer Jay Leno to cancel his scheduled appearance at the SHOT Show’s “State of the Industry Dinner” scheduled for January 20, 2015 at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The SHOT Show is an annual production of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the gun industry. Seats at the “State of the Industry Dinner” go for $115 apiece for SHOT attendees.
Less than 24 hours after the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) launched a petition, Leno purportedly contacted Po Murray, the executive director of Newtown Action Alliance, to inform her that he had cancelled his appearance at the 2015 SHOT Show. According to the CSGV, Leno said he was unaware that the NSSF was a pro-gun lobbying group based in Newtown, Connecticut. As Leno told Mother Jones magazine in separate remarks, “I understand it’s Newtown, and of course I get it. It’s just, sometimes, mistakes get made.” The NSSF released a statement on Leno’s cancellation, which read: “We are clearly disappointed by Jay Leno’s decision not to perform at the 2015 SHOT Show State of the Industry Dinner. He unilaterally cancelled his promised appearance due to pressure from the anti-gun lobby, which included false statements about our industry and its commitment to genuine firearms safety, which we attempted to personally correct with him, but to no avail.” The NSSF further said, “We are not deterred by their publicity seeking nor are we unfamiliar with the bullying political tactics of the gun-control groups that seem to have as little respect for the First Amendment as they continually demonstrate with regard to the Second Amendment.” “We are proud of the many programs that we run that meaningfully contribute to public safety,” the NSSF statement continued, “including our long-standing Project ChildSafe and Don’t Lie for the Other Guy initiatives in addition to our members everyday work in compliance with comprehensive federal and state laws. We will not allow the lawful commerce in firearms nor our industry to be demonized, and we will continue to speak out for the Second Amendment rights of the millions of law-abiding citizens who are our customers.” The petition posted by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence accused Leno of “helping to legitimize a crass commercialism which values profit over human lives” by speaking to SHOT Show attendees.
Leno’s publicist did not respond to an email request for comment.