A Newtown, Connecticut, arms foundation, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), is opening a Las Vegas trade show expected to draw tens of thousands of gun enthusiasts to Vegas on Tuesday. The show arrives roughly a month after mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown killed 20 children and six teachers.
In preparation for the show NSSF has issued nearly 60,000 credentials to industry professionals, recreational firearms owners, and law enforcement officials in what will be one of the year’s biggest gun events hosted at the Las Vegas Sands Expo Convention Center.
“Hunting and the recreational shooting sports are here to stay. And so are we,” said Steve Sanetti, president and CEO of the industry association. “A prerequisite to any dialogue involving our industry and its products is an honest recognition of the legitimacy of what we do and the important part of the national culture which we represent.”
Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show organizers limited news and media attendance after news broke of the shooting. The SHOT event is closed to the public; only those with credentials can attend.
Sanetti is due to address over 2,000 attendees late Tuesday on the state of the weapons industry and the NSSF’s position on gun control and regulation. “Ours is a responsible industry that manufactures and sells lawful products to law-abiding citizens, who in turn exercise their constitutional right to own, use and enjoy firearms safely and responsibly for lawful purposes,” he said in a statement.
While the attendance appears impressive, it’s nothing compared to the outpouring of pro-gun rights sentiments among American firearms owners: the NRA added nearly 250,000 members over the course of the past month in anticipation of increased gun control following the mass shootings.