Entertainer Jay Leno dropped out of a planned appearance before the National Shooting Sports Foundation after a number of anti-gun violence groups called for the former “Tonight Show” host to cancel the gig.
The Newtown Action Alliance — founded by residents of the Connecticut town who are pushing for gun legislation — and other organizations had launched a petition campaign objecting to the performance. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is based in Newtown, Conn., is putting on a trade show in Las Vegas: the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show, where Leno was to perform. Newtown was the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in which 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman.
Leno told Mother Jones that “I understand it’s Newtown, and of course I get it. It’s just sometimes, mistakes get made.”
Moms Demand Action also launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #JokesonLeno.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said in a statement that they object to the National Shooting Sports Foundation because of its opposition to measures like background checks on all gun sales. “Jay Leno now stands with the majority of Americans who support common sense gun laws,” she said.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation said they were “disappointed” by Leno’s decision. “He unilaterally canceled 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.”
They said that they will proceed with their planned dinner “with a performer that respects the contributions of our industry and the customers it supports.”