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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Gun controversy claims Outdoors show

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 28, 2013 8:48 AM

Radio Smart Talk for Monday, January 28:

assault rifle.jpg

The debate over guns has been raging since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December.  Not being able to see eye-to-eye on an issue related to guns claimed one of Central Pennsylvania's most popular events this week.

The Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show was scheduled to begin February 2 -- next Saturday -- at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg and run until February 10.  Hundreds of thousands of people normally attend from all over the East Coast and spend millions of dollars in the local economy.

Earlier this month, the show's organizer -- Reed Exhibitions -- decided to prohibit the sale of "modern sporting rifles" or what many people call military style assault rifles, as well as high capacity ammunition magazines.  Reed said in a statement that, "“In the current climate, we felt that the presence of MSRs would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests. This was intended simply as a product decision, of the type event organizers need to make every day."

Exhibitors at the show did not react well to being told they couldn't display or sell the weapons.  More than 300 decided to boycott the event, saying they wouldn't support what they felt was an infringement on theirs and their customers' Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Many can't decide whether the boycott and subsequent postponement of the outdoors show is a victory or defeat.

On Monday's Radio Smart Talk, we'll address the circumstances that led to the postponement and the economic impact on the region.

Appearing on the program will be Lancaster Newspapers Outdoors Writer P.J. Reilly, Joe Keffer, owner of the Sportsman Shop in New Holland, one of the exhibitors who was boycotting the show, and Sharon Altland of the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau.

Listen to the program:

Post your questions and comments below.


Sharon Altland, director of sales for the Hershey/Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau, discusses the economic impact of postponing the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.


Rick Dunlap, director of communications for the Hershey/Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau, weighs in on Radio Smart Talk.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:19

    E-mail from Dana:

    "When the second was created, the weapon at the time was a musket. It was a law created at a time post-revolutionary war. To argue this point in this day and age is ridiculous. 'Let them have all the muskets they want.'"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:21

    E-mail from Manuel:

    "We do not need automobiles that can travel at speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour. Yet manufacturers continue to build these deadly machines.

    We do not need bottles of alcohol that hold more than a pint. Yet distilleries continue to create larger bottles of liquor that drive alcohol related crime.

    We do not need packets of cigarettes that have more than a few cigarettes. Yet every day, cartons of this cancer causing material is sold.

    We do not need magazines that hold more than 10 cartridges. Yet our federal government has decided to go after this single product.

    What is the problem with the statements above?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:22

    E-mail from Jeremy:

    "Blaming the media for the negative perception of assault rifles is absurd. Obviously they are powerful weapons. 20 dead children in a matter of just a few minutes is plenty of evidence for that. There is absolutely no defense to be had for the possession of these weapons by anyone."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:27

    E-mail from Lee:

    "People are foolish to ask why people "need" semi-automatic weapons to hunt deer. Why do they "need" to eat Big Macs? The salient point is that you can't legally use semi-automatic weapons to hunt in Pa. That is why I was surprised that people at a sportsmen's show care about weapons that they can't use to hunt. There is also a capacity limit on magazines in Pa."

  • Thomas img 2013-01-28 09:31

    Ask them why they aren't fighting for their right to own and use (for sport, of course) tanks, fully armed fighter jets, and fully automatic machine guns????
    There has to be a line.

  • Craig img 2013-01-28 09:32

    I am a gun owner and a member of a hunt club. I see no problem with the regulation of guns as inherently dangerous objects. Some guns are more dangerous than others. We permit people to own tigers, build dangerous chemical labs, drive high speed vehicles and do an assortment of activities that are dangerous. However, they must get approvals and comply with regulations to ensure that their activities do not endanger others. If my neighbor wants to own an arsenal of semi automatic weapons I have no problem if he can demonstrate his responsibility to handle it; store it securely; how it can be sold ; and comply with other laws that ensure my safety from those who feel the desire to have such weapons.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:33

    E-mail from Jim:

    "Your guest ignores the fact that the first thing the Army teaches a new recruit about an M16 is to NEVER use full automatic mode, it is too inaccurate. They teach to use 3-shot bursts.

    He refers to military people learning to use their M-1 rifle in the Army and bring the experience (not the rifle) home with them. He glosses over the fact that almost none of current crop of owners of military style have ever worn a military uniform. Only one percent of people now serve in the military.

    I think of them as a bunch of soldier "wanna-bes" who like to pretend them are military killing the bad guys. Very few of them have ever had the experience of having to really use a rifle to do harm to another human being.

    I do own two 22 cal rifles.

  • TrinaB img 2013-01-28 09:36

    Hello Mr LaMar

    Another great topic. I am not however writting to post my views or make a counter point to what anyone else's opinion. I am simply writing to invite you, and any NPR staffer, to come to my home and handle my differnt types of firearms to familiarize yourself with them. You are also invited to take a trip to the firing range with me some day so you can see for yourself how a semiautomatic military rifle operates compared to a nonmilitary rifle. Your also welcome to shoot my reproduction Civil War era blackpowder revolver which back then was consider a high capacity weapon.

    Keep up the great work on your program.

  • Roger & Mary Kay img 2013-01-28 09:40

    My son & I have attended the Sportsmen's Show in the past and we are both hunters. I think that the vendors that pulled out have bullied the public and Reed Exhibitions to cancel this good show. This is a terrible loss to the local economy.
    I feel that the NRA has blown this out of proportion. The NRA does not speak for the majority of the hunters and citizens in Pennsylvania.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:41

    E-mail from Jeremy:

    "I would also like to point out that I am a gun owner. I own a 20 gauge shotgun, a .22 rifle and a 30-06 rifle. And I am sickened by the madness of the NRA."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:42

    E-mail from D.:

    "No matter what the NRA wants and the manufacturers want, the cost of life doesn't add up. From the shootings here in the US, to the arms that make their way to the drug trade: now's the time to break this stranglehold."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:44

    E-mail from Scott:

    "'Wrong, wrong, wrong' is my response to the caller that professes to be a 'constitutional scholar'. The militia clause in the 2nd Amendment, in fact the entire 2nd Amendment, was included in the Bill of Rights at the behest of the southern slave states who were worried that the Federal Power to raise an army would usurp their slave militias that were used to keep slaves in check. It is true that most of those states required able bodied men to be a part of those militias. No such requirements can be found in the northern states.


  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:47

    E-mail from James:

    "The outdoor show was a great family event. The vendors who withdrew from the show were responding not to sports men and women, but rather the fringe of the gun owning community. High capacity magazines and military style guns are the fishermen's equivalent of using explosives to harvest fish. The NRA is boasting that they have in excess of 250,000 new members. They have not answered how many members have withdrawn their membership from the organization.

    Members of the Supreme Court have been clear thatthe 2nd amendment does not grant the right to ownership of all weapons. In fact, Scalia, who wrote the Columbia - Heller decision, was clear the restrictions to ownership on specific weapons could be imposed by the court."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:51

    E-mail from Liz:

    "No one questions the right of the state government to require vehicle drivers' licenses and car and truck registration.

    What really is the difference between requiring training and gun owners' licenses and gun registration?

    A gun is much much more deadly than a car.

    Get real, people!"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-28 09:55

    E-mail from Mark:

    "I congratulate the organization of the Outdoor show, Reed exhibitions, for first banning the military style guns and then not backing down when exhibitors protested this decision.

    The second amendment was written in a totally different time in history. Just as other amendments have evolved over time the second amendment also needs to evolve and be current with today's world. I'm sure the wisdom of the writers of the amendments would have written this amendment differently if they would have envisioned the types of weapons we have today. It is time, IT IS TIME that the common sense of our citizens over power the strength of the NRA to make new regulations to prohibit the types of military guns that are unnecessary for the common citizen and to regulate those people purchasing guns.

    As a retired educator we had to take time out of our educational day to have the students participate in 'intruder alerts'. I can't imagine the horror felt by the staff at the school in Connecticut when you are in charge of the safety of children. When do you consider the rights of those children and educators? It is time to change the mind set over the second amendment and be sensible to the safety of our children and citizens.

    I read the Patriot View in Sundays paper. They said it better than I can."

  • FranG img 2013-01-28 10:13

    These people who argue that we can't restrict the right of angry people to get guns, because it would hurt tourism and the Girl Scouts, make me physically ill. So get a real argument, and figure out how to keep angry people from shooting innocents.

  • scott img 2013-01-28 10:19

    im going to buy a handgun this year to protect myself from all these gun nuts.they wish for an uprising any uprising so they can kill people they hate.hate me then because i can take ur gun away from u and beat u with it any one of u any time.u people should have been put in that classroom at sandy hook to cleanup.the people that do these shootings are bonified gun nuts too.ur all cowards and i hate u.come get an old fashioned ass whoopin u can even bring ur guns.

  • Robert D Colgan img 2013-01-28 10:56

    It's a goshdarn shame that a sportsman show which was about many things involving outdoor activities and environmental concerns---not just hunting---was cancelled as a protest against certain gun regulations ---which are NOT a total ban on weaponry or restrictions on purchase or ownership, just on a few certain types & ammo.

    It got blown out of proportion, big time.

    This, and the multiple arguments I hear, reminds me greatly of the time when the auto mfgs, and car buffs, etc were up in arms with the proposals to implement safety restraint systems in automobiles, especially seatbelts, padded dashes, and safety glass.
    Opponents back then made it sound as if the government was going to seize all automobiles !! Crazy talk. And the same sort of people are just as nutzoid today with their fears about gun regulations.

    If anything, all that this topic particularly reveals is how genuinely crazy people can be and fearful people in particular.
    And I note in this that most of the fearful ones doing the craziest talk are gun owners . . . which does little to make me feel safe around them, regardless their claims of "responsible ownership."

    All the talk about the 2nd Amendment is pure BS.
    It doesn't apply to regulations on guns any more than the 1870 15th's prohibition against denial of suffrage applied to women voting rights. The wording of the 2nd Amendment is NOT a prohibition of the government's ability to regulate firearms, just a prohibition against denial of ownership. And Lord knows, you CAN own guns in America.

    • FranG img 2013-01-28 11:13

      Right on!

  • Roy img 2013-01-28 14:43

    I was an NRA life member for a number of years until, like the first caller on today's show, I decided that these people do not speak for me. I packed up my membership materials and mailed them back to then NRA president Charlton Heston and ended my affiliation with them. I still have my firearms, and do not feel my ownership of them has been in any way affected by that decision. A subsequent caller who said he was a constitutional scholar was echoing the rhetoric that turned me off. The assertion that the second amendment requires everyone to be armed and belong to a militia is absurd. I wonder what unit he belongs to!

    It is well past time that we put the rights of gun owners into a proper perspective. The twenty little children and their six teachers who died in Connecticut had rights too, and the rights that were taken away from them are more important and more dear than any right that anyone may have to own a gun.

  • Robert D Colgan img 2013-01-28 20:41

    It is worth noting that bullet manufacturers in the USA yearly use more than 1,200,000 pounds of lead (600+ tons) to make bullets that may end up in someone's body.

    Why are we making so many bullets?

    Why are we so attracted to, and protective of, things that kill?

    Why do we continue to glorify violence throughout our media and journalism as if it's not only commonplace, but acceptably normal....???

  • Jim Foster img 2013-01-29 09:35

    Certainly the left and right don't agree on everything about the gun issue. But there ARE things that almost everyone agrees on, like universal background checks to purchase a gun, severe penalties for turning a semi-automatic gun into a machine gun or failure to secure your gun, etc. Why can't we get these passed NOW?