The former host of “The Tonight Show” cancelled his performance scheduled Jan. 20 at the 2015 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors Show held annually in Las Vegas after liberal activists targeted the comic.
“We are clearly disappointed by Jay Leno‘s decision not to perform at the 2015 SHOT Show State of the Industry Dinner,” according to a statement from the Newtown, Connecticut-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, the SHOT Show organizer.
“He unilaterally cancelled 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,” NSSF said.
The activist group that led the attacks on Leno is Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, led by Josh Horwitz, its executive director. The group is funded by wealthy liberals, such as George Soros, Michael R. Bloomberg and the Democracy Alliance.
Horwitz said he was surprised when he heard Leno would entertain at NSSF’s SHOT Show less than two years after the gruesome mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
“That would be the same NSSF that has accused Newtown survivors who have advocated for tougher gun laws of reacting irrationally because they are ‘angry’ and ‘fearful,’” he said. “The same NSSF that continues to lobby against even the most modest proposals such as universal background checks for all gun sales, a reform which is supported by 92 percent of gun owners nationally.”
Leno was never known as a supporter of gun rights, he said. “His sudden embrace of the gun lobby comes out of left field. He has never publicly voiced support for the NSSF and it is unclear why he is now helping them to hawk their wares.”
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence launched its campaign against Leno and NSSF early Nov. 19 with blast e-mails, posts on social media and an online petition.
By the end of the day, Leno had flaked.
The State of the Industry Dinner is one of the highlights of the massive trade show that draws more than 1,500 exhibitors more than 70,000 attendees from all 50 states and 100 countries to the Lads Vegas Sands hotel. Tickets to the dinner were priced at $125 for members and $135 for non-members.
The NSSF said it will not cave to pressure.
“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,” the group said.
“We will not allow the lawful commerce in firearms nor our industry to be demonized and we will continue to speak out for the Second Amendment rights of the millions of law-abiding citizens who are our customers,” it said.
“Despite Mr. Leno’s cancellation, we look forward to having our biggest and best State of the Industry Dinner to date with a performer that respects the contributions of our industry and the customers it supports.”