NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) — Former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno canceled an appearance at a gun show after being pressured by anti-gun groups.
Mother Jones first reported that several groups called on Leno to cancel his appearance at the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas in January. The event is hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is based in Newtown, Conn., the scene of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where Adam Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 children.
“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,” the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said in a statement.
Newtown Action Alliance chairman Po Murray said she was disheartened that Leno originally agreed to appear at the gun show.
“I’m not sure if Jay Leno has done his research and understands that NSSF is the corporate gun lobby and they spend a significant amount of money to lobby congressional leaders to not pass significant gun reform legislation,” she told Mother Jones. “It’s disheartening as a Newtown resident to see him make this appearance at the SHOT Show. So we’re urging him to cancel his appearance.”
Leno told the NSSF Wednesday that he was canceling his appearance.
“I understand it’s Newtown, and of course I get it,” Leno told Mother Jones. “It’s just sometimes, mistakes get made.”
NSSF said in a statement they were “disappointed” by Leno’s decision.
“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.”