“We estimate that we had an 80 million dollar hit to our economy. It’s like our stock market crashed that day,” said Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste. Haste says the cancelled Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show was a huge detriment to the local economy. The show was cancelled because of major backlash after organizer Reed Exhibitions banned the sale of certain guns.
The NRA will put on the show, now called the Great American Outdoor Show. After Dauphin County Commissioners selected the group, rumors started to swirl that the NRA would not allow the sale of any guns at the show.
Haste said he went to an NRA convention and purchased a gun to experience the process for himself. “You can buy a gun, you just can’t buy a gun and walk out with it that day,” said Haste. “You cannot buy one and carry it out. But you can buy one, you take a certificate to a gun dealer the gun dealer checks everything out and it’s done through the system.”
Joe Staudt with Staudt’s Gun Shop on Allentown Blvd. said this policy could help his business, which is only a few miles away from where the show will take place, at the Farm Show Complex. “It definitely gives us local dealers an advantage, we are close by,” said Staudt. “We’ll be able to sell a gun to the customer at the show. They will just have to come out here to our shop to pick it up, or we can ship it to a dealer near them if they are out-of-state,” said Staudt.
Staudt made it clear that if anyone from Pennsylvania buys a handgun or long gun from him at the show, they can go right to his shop, undergo the background check, and take their purchase home with them right away. If the purchaser lives out-of-state, they can pick up the long gun at the shop, after a background check. If someone out-of-state purchases a handgun, it will be shipped to a dealer in their state, and they will go through the process there.
“I’m really excited about it and I think that the fact that we didn’t have it last year was a financial detriment for the area. I think this is going to be the biggest show we’ve ever had,” said Staudt.
Commissioner Haste agreed. “I think this show is going to be like nothing we have ever seen before. They [NRA] have great contacts throughout the nation. So, not only are we going to see a show at that building for that week, they are going to have 2 or 3 concerts that week, two on site, and one offsite, they are going to have dinners with celebrities, they’re going to have events with celebrities,” said Haste.
We talked to some local gun shops who choose not to participate in the new show next year because the no gun policy is not cost-effective for their business.
The NRA responded to their concerns: “There were over 1,000 exhibitors at the previous show in Harrisburg and we would love to have them all exhibit at the Great American Outdoor Show. We’re only a month into booth sales being open and already have over 400 exhibitors signed up. The new firearms hall, where attendees can check out thousands of guns, is nearly sold out and features National manufacturers as well as several local guns shops. We hope that those shops that choose not to exhibit at the 2014 Great American Outdoor Show will come check out the excitement and improvements to the show and grab a booth in 2015,” said Jeremy Greene, Marketing/Media Relations Division of the National Rifle Association.
The Great American Outdoor Show is a nine-day event for all things outdoors: hunting, fishing, etc. Exhibitors range from shooting manufacturers, outfitters, fishing boats and RV’s, and archery. Events include concerts, fundraising dinners, speaking events, archery competitions, celebrity appearances, seminars, demonstrations and more.
The Great American Outdoor show runs February 1-9, 2014.
For more information on the show click here.