Jay Leno canceled a scheduled performance at the 2015 SHOT Show State of the Industry Dinner, a gun show, after the Newton Action Alliance began a petition to urge the comedian not to attend.

Jay Leno cancels gun show appearance

The 2015 SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show) event takes place in Las Vegas, but is organized by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) based in Newtown, Conn. When it was announced that Leno would be performing at the event, anti-gun group Newtown Action Alliance launched a petition for the comedian to cancel his appearance, in conjunction with anti-gun groups, the Campaign to Unload and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

“Jay Leno is a nationally-recognized figure who recently received the 17th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. By lending his name to the NSSF, he is helping to legitimize a crass commercialism which values profit over human lives. The SHOT Show is the largest firearms trade show in the world. Its sole purpose is to allow manufacturers to market their wares; and it provides no voice to those whose lives have been destroyed by a loosely-regulated industry,” reads the petition.

Mere hours after the petition launched, Leno cancelled his SHOT Show appearance, going so far as to call the executive director of Newton Action Alliance, Po Murray, personally to tell her the news.

Leno reportedly told Murray that he had no idea that NSSF was pro-gun lobbying group based in Newton, the site of the 2012 mass shooting. “I understand it’s Newtown, and of course I get it. It’s just sometimes, mistakes get made,” Leno told Mother Jones after the announcement.  

“I’m not at all surprised that Jay didn’t understand that the NSSF is part of the gun lobby. Before the Sandy Hook shootings, I had no idea they existed, and they’re right here in my community! I am thrilled that Jay changed his mind once he had full information. It is so appreciated by those of us in Newton,” Murray said. 

Josh Horowitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, was equally impressed with Leno’s swift action, saying, “We are sincerely grateful to Mr. Leno for making this decision so quickly after it was brought to his attention. It shows that he cares about all the Americans whose lives have been turned upside down by gun violence.” 


NSSF Releases Statement Following Jay Leno Drama

The NSSF and SHOT show have also released a statement, claiming that the anti-gun groups that campaigned Leno to cancel were lying about SHOT: “[Leno] unilaterally canceled his promised appearance due to pressure from the anti-gun lobby, which included false statements about our industry and its commitment to genuine firearms safety, which we attempted to personally correct with him, but to no avail.”

SHOT reaffirmed their mission to fight for the Second Amendment, saying, “We are not deterred by their publicity seeking nor are we unfamiliar with the bullying political tactics of the gun control groups that seem to have as little respect for the First Amendment as they continually demonstrate with regard to the Second Amendment.”

Leno recently made headlines by giving a wounded soldier a brand new car in a segment aired on the Today show.

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