Jay Leno Praised by Moms Group for Canceling Gun Show Appearance

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A letter from Moms Demand Action to the comedian say his actions did more for gun safety than the U.S. government has since Newtown

Jay Leno has faced backlash from conservative commentators for canceling a gun show performance, but now he's getting some praise.

Shannon Watts, director of the gun control group Moms Demand Action, has penned an open letter to Leno to thank him for canceling his performance. The group had previously campaigned for Leno to dump the appearance.

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The letter, obtained exclusively by The Hollywood Reporter, notes that the Las Vegas event was hosted by National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), an organization based in Newtown, Conn., the town rocked by a 2012 school massacre. It says that by canceling his appearance, Leno has "done more for gun safety since the Newtown tragedy than the United States government."

"I realize you may still be smarting a bit from our #JokesOnLeno campaign on Twitter, so I wanted to explain why it was so important for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to ask you not to host an event for an extremist, radicalized gun lobby group — especially one based in Newtown, Connecticut. We're also writing to thank you — loud and clear — for doing the right thing and canceling your participation," the letter reads in part.

It goes on to praise Leno for having spoken out about background checks in the past.

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"Just like many Americans, you did not have a complete understanding of what you were wading into, or the radicalism of the group you were supporting, but Moms Demand Action knew that you had spoken out publicly in favor of background checks. That's why we took to social media to let you know what was really going on," the letter continues.

Read the full letter here.

Leno was slated to perform in Las Vegas at a January main dinner of the Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade show, but groups, including Mom's Demand Action, pressured him to back out.

"I understand it's Newtown, and of course I get it," Leno told Mother Jones about his decision to pull out of the event. "It's just sometimes, mistakes get made."

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch