NBC Sports is a leading sponsor of the nation's largest gun industry trade show, an event that also bills itself as a show of industry strength in the face of stronger guns laws. The network's sponsorship of the trade show, hosted next week in Las Vegas, comes six weeks after NBC Sports' Bob Costas drew controversy for criticizing what he termed the nation's dangerous “gun culture.”
The event, the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), will occur during a fierce debate over strengthening gun laws in light of last month's tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT.
SHOT Show is billed as the “the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries” and “the world's premier exposition of combined firearms.” But it is more than just a trade show; according to its organizer, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (the trade association for firearms manufacturers and dealers), “Any SHOT attendee will tell you the show is more than about selling and buying; it's a powerful display of industry unity and its resolve to meet any challenge affecting the right to make, sell and own firearms.”
NBC Sports apparently supports that “display of industry unity” against stronger gun laws. SHOT Show's website lists NBC Sports as its “New Product Center Sponsor”:
According to an October NSSF press release touting NBC Sports' return as a sponsor, the New Product Center" is “the showcase for innovative, new equipment being introduced to the hunting, shooting, outdoors and law enforcement markets.”
A Media Matters report from the 2011 SHOT show detailed the equipment featured at that event, including an array of assault rifles, tactical shotguns, and pistols with high-capacity magazines. Several military-style assault rifles were reportedly on display at the booth of gun manufacturer Bushmaster last year; a Bushmaster .223 semiautomatic rifle was used during last month's school shooting in Newtown, CT.
Ironically, NSFF is headquartered in Newtown. SHOT Show is not open to the public, and in an apparent attempt to avoid increased scrutiny in the wake of the shooting in that town, the organization has curtailed press access.
On December 2, following the murder-suicide committed by Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher, Costas used his commentary segment on NBC's Football Night in America to endorse part of a column that criticized the nation's “gun culture.” He was immediately pilloried by the right-wing media and the National Rifle Association.
Costas subsequently used a series of TV interviews to detail his support for requiring a background check on all gun purchases and reinstituting the assault weapons ban -- policies now under discussion in the wake of the Newtown massacre.