Leno dropped out just hours after the Newtown Action Alliance began circulating a petition calling on him to cancel. Several hundred people had already bought tickets to his performance, which the NSSF was calling the “highlight” of the event.
According to Town Hall, the most recent SHOT show attracted 67,000 people and pumped $73 million into the Las Vegas economy. More than 1600 companies were involved in the event, which included a performance by the magicians Penn & Teller.
Leno’s spokesman claims the comedian had accepted NSSF’s invitation without knowing that the NSSF was part of the “pro-gun lobby”. The spokesman also said Leno did not receive any payment for the gig, although the NSSF has since disputed that claim.
The NSSF responded to Leno’s cancellation with a statement criticizing the “bullying political tactics” of gun control groups.
“We are clearly disappointed by Jay Leno's decision not to perform at the 2015 SHOT Show State of the Industry Dinner. 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. 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.”