By JENNIFER FITCH
5:43 PM EST, January 21, 2013
At least two Franklin County, Pa., businesses are among the vendors deciding to not attend the 58th annual Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show because the event’s organizer banned the display and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Keystone Country Store of Fort Loudon, Pa., said on its Facebook page that it will not attend the show, but it already sponsored archery shoots that are expected to be held as usual.
GUTNTAG LLC, of Greencastle, Pa., also decided to pull out of the show.
“We have to respect the decision, but our stance is we’re doing it on the principle of the thing,” said Joe Trobaugh, a partner in GUTNTAG, which sells seasonings and sauces for meat.
Trobaugh said he and his business partner, Tim Starr, support the Second Amendment, which they argue grants the right to bear arms not for hunting, but to protect law-abiding citizens. Starr said organizers of the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show in Harrisburg, Pa., caved to political pressure.
Event organizer Reed Exhibitions imposed the ban at the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show following the deadly Connecticut elementary school shooting that has prompted the ongoing gun control debate in Washington, D.C.
The event’s website says officials “strongly support the Second Amendment” but decided negative attention on such weapons “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.”
Event spokeswoman Deb Davis said she had little information beyond what was in the statement. She said several vendors were submitting cancellations following announcement of the assault weapons ban, a decision made by Reed Exhibitions about two weeks ago.
Hunting and fishing retailer Cabela’s Inc., which has 40 stores in the United States and Canada, has announced it will not participate in the nine-day show, which is scheduled to open Feb. 2 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. Kinsey’s Outdoors of Mount Joy, Pa., Lancaster (Pa.) Archery Supply and Trop Gun Shop of Elizabethtown, Pa., have said they do not intend to participate.
The National Rifle Association issued a statement calling upon Reed Exhibitions to reconsider, saying its future participation in the show would be determined by the response. The NRA also urged members to follow the organization’s lead by “voicing their displeasure.”
Trobaugh said he would be reluctant to be a vendor at the show even if Reed Exhibitions changed its position. He said he feels the stance against assault weapons is its ultimate belief.
Allison Trobaugh said her husband’s business was represented at the Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show for the first time in 2011.
“The show was a huge success for them,” she said. “It generated enough capital for them to run the rest of the year on.”
The business might lose money and its registration fees, but it is taking a stand, Allison Trobaugh said.
About 1,200 exhibitors were expected at the show, which is billed as the largest hunting and fishing show in North America.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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