After criticism from gun control advocates, Jay Leno has canceled an appearance at an event hosted by a gun group based in Newtown, Conn.

The former "Tonight Show" host had agreed to speak at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s “Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show” (SHOT) in Las Vegas this January. The group is based in Newtown, where an armed gunman killed 20 children and six school staff members in 2012 and reignited the national conversation on gun control.


Leno told Mother Jones Wednesday night that he canceled his plans for the SHOT dinner after speaking with Po Murray, chairman of the Newtown Action Alliance, a group started by the town’s residents to promote gun safety.
“I understand it's Newtown, and of course I get it," Leno said to Mother Jones. "It's just sometimes, mistakes get made."
His planned appearance drew criticism from a slew of gun control advocates and inspired a petition from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. In a press release on the group’s website, a number of gun control advocates praised Leno’s decision to cancel.
“We are sincerely grateful to Mr. Leno for making this decision so quickly after it was brought to his attention,” Josh Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said.
“It shows that he cares about all the Americans whose lives have been turned upside down by gun violence.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation said in a statement that the group is “disappointed” that Leno pulled out, blaming it on “pressure” from gun control groups and “false statements about our industry and its commitment to genuine firearms safety.”
“We are not deterred by their publicity seeking nor are we unfamiliar with the bullying political tactics of the gun control groups that seem to have as little respect for the First Amendment as they continually demonstrate with regard to the Second Amendment,” the group's statement said.