UPDATE: Less than 24 hours after this petition was launched, Jay Leno contacted Po Murray, the executive director of Newtown Action Alliance, to inform her that he had cancelled his appearance at the 2015 SHOT Show. He said he was unaware that the NSSF was a pro-gun lobbying group based in Newtown, Connecticut. As Leno told Mother Jones magazine in separate remarks, “I understand it’s Newtown, and of course I get it. It’s just, sometimes, mistakes get made.”
Less than two years after the gruesome mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno has agreed to perform at the 2015 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show on behalf of the Newtown, Connecticut-based National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the gun industry.1,2
Since the shooting, which claimed the lives of six adults and 20 first-grade children, the NSSF has opposed any and all attempts to strengthen U.S. gun laws to prevent future tragedies. The association has accused gun violence prevention advocates of “seeking to destroy the Second Amendment” and lobbied against even the most modest proposals, such as universal background checks for all gun sales, a reform which is supported by 92% of gun owners nationally.3
Equally unsettling is the fact that the NSSF has done nothing to reach out to the families whose children were killed in the tragedy, despite the fact that the association is headquartered in Newtown. Instead, NSSF President Steve Sanetti has accused family members who have advocated for tougher gun laws of reacting “emotionally” and irrationally because they are “angry” and “fearful.”
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.
Gun violence is not a joke, Mr. Leno. Cancel your appearance at the 2015 SHOT Show immediately.