This past week the National Shooting Sports Foundation issued a press release leading up to the 2014 SHOT Show. SHOT Show is the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show which seems to have found its home in Fabulous Las Vegas. SHOT Show is the 6th largest show in Vegas and one of the top 20 largest shows in the nation. This year SHOT Show will bring $73.1 million dollars into the economy of Las Vegas. To sum it up, SHOT Show is a pretty big deal both in the industry and out. I am glad to be a part of this amazing event which opens on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas.
The press release from NSSF contained some great snippets and “sound bites,” like the ones in the paragraph above, and in addition it had two important messages that drew me in. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a good news bad news press release in my eyes.
How does it sound if I start out with the good news?
Nissan has stepped up and taken a prominent position as a sponsor at SHOT Show 2014.
I had the pleasure of spending some time on the media day bus with a Nissan executive returning to the strip last year so this information isn’t surprising to me. At the same time I am thrilled to see a company without ties to the industry willing to take a leading role in what is arguably the most important week in the firearms industry.
You see, 2013 was a year where many folks ran from the industry. Companies with strong ties made knee jerk decisions that lead to a strong fall out in the industry. Two of the many instances that come to mind are the stances the Dick’s Sporting Goods and Reed Exhibitions took against what they call the “Modern Sporting Rifle.”
Yeah the evil looking AR15. I don’t know what the impact of the half cocked decision Dick’s made was to their bottom line, but I do know that I drive on by when I’m looking for a place to spend my money. The impact Reed’s decision had may be a bit more familiar to you. You remember that $73.1 million dollar trade show I was talking about? SHOT Show right? Well, SHOT Show used to be Reed’s gig. Not any more. The National Shooting Sports Foundation sent Reed packing. Good call NSSF!
Dick’s and Reed aren’t the only companies that walked away from our industry. NBC canceled firearms related shows in 2013 and even more painful for me personally, was the fact that Budweiser dropped their sponsorship of the SHOT Show Press Room. SHOT Show 2013 wasn’t quite the same without that refreshing ice cold beer at 3pm in the working press area.
So in this time where many companies seem to live in fear of an association with firearms and the firearms industry I am thrilled to see Nissan having the courage to step forward and take an active role in both SHOT Show and the firearms world in general. Nissan builds rugged trucks and they fit in perfectly with what hunters and shooters do and where hunters and shooters go. It really is a good match.
As a result of Nissan’s decision to sponsor the SHOT Show press room I have made the professional decision to make sure to take some time out from guns on media day and get behind the wheel of a Nissan truck to put it through its paces. You can bet I will be telling you all about it, so stay tuned.
Good work Nissan!
NSSF side-steps personal defense at SHOT Show 2014
Ok that was the good news. The bad news? Maybe that isn’t the right way to frame it. Maybe disappointing news would be a better way to describe it…
The NSSF released a statement from its President and CEO Steve Sanetti about the 36th SHOT Show. It reads as follows:
“The variety of new and existing products that will be on display at the SHOT Show reflects the tremendous interest in the shooting sports by Americans from all walks of life—across all income levels, including men and women, adults and youth and those from rural communities to urban areas. This growing interest demonstrates that despite continued challenges to our industry and our sports, our hunting and recreational shooting traditions are here to stay [a]nd we will do everything possible to protect those freedoms and the way of life that we cherish.”
Sounds pretty cool, except for the big part that is missing. Did you catch it?
“despite continued challenges to our industry and our sports, our hunting and recreational shooting traditions are here to stay [a]nd we will do everything possible to protect those freedoms…”
It’s the part that I expect and accept that Nissan will leave out, but it’s almost inexcusable for a company that is deeply tied to the Second Amendment to forget.
There are a tremendous number of exhibitors, attendees and press that will attend SHOT Show this year that will never invest their precious SHOT Show energy on hunting, target or recreational shooting. They are there for a different reason. I am one of those people.
You see as much as I enjoy target shooting, recreational shooting and hunting, I am keenly aware that these wonderful hobbies are merely side effects of something much bigger and more important. I think I might be able to sum it up in about 27 words:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
It is easy, and maybe even more pleasant to believe that our Second Amendment is about fun with guns. There isn’t anything wrong with enjoying firearms but the reality is, that in America, guns and the Second Amendment are about something bigger. It’s about protecting ourselves, our loved ones, our homes and even our Nation should we need to.
And that is why the statement from the NSSF is so disappointing to me. At a time when the industry is facing unprecedented challenges from many directions, why should a major player in the industry turn its back on a major source of income and interest and, more importantly, the fundamental reason our industry has survived in its current form, our Bill of Rights?
The answer isn’t as easy as you or I would like to think it is. It would be nice to think that all organizations could simply draw a line in the sand and firmly defend our right to keep and bear arms. At the same time we must be realistic and understand how it is that an organization like the NSSF is able to attract someone like Nissan to the table in the first place. Maybe it is exactly that moderate stance that let’s a deal with Nissan move forward to success. Maybe.
Recently I spoke to Rob Pincus who will be attending SHOT Show for the 17th time this year. Yeah, that’s nearly half of all of the SHOT Shows. Here is what he had to say:
“I understand the history of the NSSF and the evolution of the political climate since they were formed. While it is surprising that ‘Personal Defense’ isn’t mentioned at all in the statement by [NSSF President Steve Sanetti], I’ve witnessed first hand how much their acceptance and support of the ‘tactical’ side of the industry has expanded over the past decade or so. They definitely get it, even if it isn’t the lead story in their communications.”
Maybe sometimes I expect too much. Maybe.
The firearms, hunting, outdoor and personal defense industry is going to continue to grow and you and I both know that challenges are going to continue to confront us along the way. It’s time that we find a way to attract companies like Nissan that are a quality fit with SHOT Show and our industry while at the same time being true to what we really are.
Over the next few days you can expect to see me covering the aspects of SHOT Show that I feel are the most important, the rapidly growing personal defense sector as well as the important involvement of Nissan.
Make sure to keep an eye on the SSA website, where you will find my SHOT Show live blogs, as well as our social media feeds for the latest information on what’s happening in wonderful Las Vegas Nevada.