January 14 kicks off a four-day gun industry trade show that gathers firearms industry professionals from around the country to unveil new weaponry and stand against the regulation of firearms.
The 2014 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), put on by the gun industry lobby group National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), is billed as “the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries” and is held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The NSSF promises nearly 11 football fields of exhibition space at the 36th annual SHOT Show for an expected crowd of 60,000 gun industry professionals. Because it is a trade show, the event is closed to the general public, although 2,500 members of media -- many affiliated with outdoor and gun publications -- are expected to attend. The estimated 1,600 exhibitors will represent every facet of the gun industry, although a list of exhibitors suggests like in past years the event will heavily promote an array of assault rifles, tactical shotguns, and pistols with high-capacity magazines. The trade show will be capped by a speech from NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti on the gun industry's “year of resiliency” in 2013, presumably a nod to backlash against the gun industry following the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
While the National Rifle Association's annual meeting typically draws more media scrutiny compared to SHOT Show, both events are important to understanding the direction and goals of the gun industry. Here are five facts about this year's SHOT Show:
1. NBC Sports Declined To Sponsor SHOT Show After Years Of Support
Despite serving as a high-level sponsor of SHOT Show for several years, in October an NBC Sports spokesperson informed Media Matters that the network would not sponsor the 2014 show “because it does not make business sense for us at this time.” The announcement came just days after NBC Sports fired the host of an NRA-sponsored hunting show for comparing critics of elephant hunting to Hitler. NBC Sports' sponsorship of the January 2013 SHOT Show also faced criticism as it came in the wake of the Newtown mass shooting and because it followed a recent critique of the nation's “gun culture” by NBC Sports host Bob Costas after an NFL player committed a murder-suicide.
2. Maker Of Assault Weapon Used In Newtown Massacre Is A SHOT Show Exhibitor
The manufacturers of firearms used in three of the deadliest recent mass shootings -- Smith & Wesson, Bushmaster Firearms International and Remington Arms Company -- will all have exhibit booths at SHOT Show. A Bushmaster assault weapon was used in the Newtown shooting, a Smith & Wesson assault weapon was used during the July 2012 Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting, and a Remington shotgun was used in the September 2013 shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
Both Bushmaster and Remington are owned by Remington Outdoor, Inc. (ROC), the umbrella company for a number of assault weapon manufacturers. ROC CEO George Kollitides, who also holds a powerful position in NRA leadership, recently announced that he and other investors will buy out investors who wished to divest in ROC (then called Freedom Group) following the Newtown shooting. A new report from Violence Policy Center explaining ROC's “militarized marketing” tactics -- including the use of military and law enforcement lingo to pitch military-style weapons to the general public -- demonstrates how ROC will fit in at SHOT Show among a multitude of assault weapon and tactical shotgun and pistol sellers.
3. Gun Manufacturers Exhibiting At SHOT Show Are Multi-Million Dollar NRA Donors
According to a press release from Violence Policy Center, several exhibitors at SHOT Show have donated in excess of $1 million each to the NRA since 2005 including ROC, Smith & Wesson, Beretta USA Corporation, Springfield Armory, Inc. and Sturm, Ruger & Co. The NRA will also air its radio and television news shows live from SHOT Show and run multiple exhibition booths. The NRA and the NSSF have a cozy relationship which includes advancing a nearly identical absolutist agenda against the regulation of firearms. During the past year, the NRA and NSSF mobilized against a U.S. Senate proposal to expand background checks on gun sales and joined forces to file a legal challenge against new gun laws in Maryland.
4. Top SHOT Show Sponsor Outdoor Channel To Unveil New Spokesman Ted Nugent
The SHOT Show will be the first high-profile event for Outdoor Channel's new spokesman, NRA board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent. On January 6, Outdoor Channel announced a “multi-year talent and endorsement agreement” where Nugent will work on behalf of the network “through traditional, digital and social media promotional initiatives, in addition to making talent appearances on the network's behalf at top consumer and industry trade events” including an appearance at SHOT Show. Turning a blind eye to Nugent's lengthy history of inflammatory rhetoric -- including bouts of racism, sexism, homophobia, immigrant bashing and Islamophobia -- Outdoor Channel President and CEO Jim Liberatore claimed that Nugent “symbolizes everything that is right in our industry” in announcing the endorsement deal. Outdoor Channel, which also recently reached an agreement to expand its relationship with the NRA, is the sole “pinnacle” sponsor of SHOT Show, the highest level of sponsorship. At last year's SHOT Show, Nugent created controversy by suggesting that it was time to violently overthrow the federal government because of an attempt to re-implement “tyranny” by the Obama administration.
5. No Personal Guns Allowed
Even though SHOT Show is a celebration of all things guns which feeds the attitude that carrying a firearm is essential to day-to-day survival, personal firearms are explicitly prohibited on SHOT Show exhibition premises. Exhibits displaying firearms must go beyond unloading the weapons and take the extra step of rendering all weapons inoperable by removing the firing pin. A SHOT Show product eligibility guide lists regulations for a number of weapons including restrictions on the display of paintball guns, crossbows and blow guns, and an outright ban on "[a]nti-aircraft and anti-tank weaponry, flamethrowers, mortars and mortar throwers." Attendees wishing to fire a gun must visit an offsite range rented by SHOT Show where exhibitors include makers and sellers of assault weapons and Slide Fire Solutions, the maker of a product that allows a user to fire a semi-automatic assault rifle at the rate of a fully automatic machinegun.