The gun industry is holding its biggest annual trade show a few miles from where a gunman slaughtered 58 concertgoers outside his high-rise Las Vegas hotel room in October using a display case worth of weapons, many of them fitted with bump stocks that enabled them to mimic fully automatic fire, the Associated Press reports. What will be among the thousands of products crammed into the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s SHOT Show convention will be a bit of a mystery, shielded from the public and the general-interest media. Slide Fire, the leading manufacturer of bump stocks, a once-obscure product that attracted intense attention after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, won’t be among the exhibitors.
The Texas-based company hasn’t said why it’s not on the roster of more than 1,700 exhibitors, although it was last year. The company also isn’t on the list of those attending this year’s National Rifle Association annual meeting or other prominent gun trade shows. “From purely from a public relations standpoint, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if bump stocks just sort of disappeared this year,” said political scientist Robert Spitzer of the State University of New York at Cortland. “That’s a PR no-brainer.” Still, the convention floor is likely to have plenty of other devices that gun-control advocates have taken aim at in recent years: accessories that make it easier to carry a firearm, shoot it or reduce the noise it makes. On the list of products they oppose are “trigger cranks,” which, like bump stocks, make it easier to fire a long gun rapidly, and “assault pistols,” which look remarkably like short-barreled AR- and AK-style firearms but skirt federal restrictions because they aren’t designed to be shot from the shoulder.