UPDATE 3:09 p.m.: Contrary to Leno spokesman Bruce Bobbins' statement that no money was involved in Leno's appearance and that he would have returned the cash if that were the case, a 50 percent deposit from the National Shooting Sports Foundation — $82,500 — was reportedly sent to Leno in August for his now-canceled hosting gig, according to documentation cited by Townhall. And NSSF told Townhall that every press release, blog, ad, email blast and all website materials that mentioned Leno or used Leno's likeness was pre-approved by his team.
Comedian Jay Leno canceled a gig for a Newtown, Connecticut, pro-gun group after gun-control activists criticized the former "Tonight Show" host for taking the job, the New York Daily News reported.
“Jay was asked to do what was positioned as a sportsman show, and when he found out it was a pro-gun lobby show, he canceled,” Leno’s spokesman Bruce Bobbins told the paper Wednesday night.
The high-priced dinner Leno was to host for the National Shooting Sports Foundation is billed as the "highlight" of the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show scheduled for Jan. 20 at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, the Daily News said.
Erica Lafferty — the youngest daughter of Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung who was killed in the 2012 shooting massacre not far from the NSSF headquarters — had called Leno's decision to host the event “out of touch” in an interview with the Daily News earlier Wednesday.
“Like, really, Jay?" Lafferty told the paper. "You said you support background checks, but then you're emceeing for the gun lobby that fought against them?”
[sharequote align="center"]“Like, really, Jay?"[/sharequote]
“That doesn't add up," she added, "and no one, especially not those of us who have had our families torn apart by gun violence, are laughing."
The NSSF opposed a defeated Senate bill that would have expanded background checks for gun purchases, the Daily News added.
More from the Daily News:
Lafferty urged Leno to take his cues from fellow comedians Sarah Silverman, “Tim & Eric” star Tim Heidecker and recent “Tonight Show” guest Kurt Braunohler who performed Tuesday night in Los Angeles at a benefit for Moms Demand Action and Everytown.org, the gun safety group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
While other gun-control activists joined Lafferty in criticizing Leno's appearance, once the comic canceled they shifted their tone.
“Moms applaud Jay Leno’s decision to cancel his National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) event appearance after hearing directly from Moms and other gun violence prevention supporters on social media," Moms Demand Action said in a statement.
While tickets for the NSSF event sold for $115 each and tables at $1,250 per, Bobbins told the Daily News no money was involved in Leno's appearance and that he would have returned the cash if that were the case.
Leno's walk-back from the pro-gun event occurred just hours after a Today Show segment aired Wednesday showing him surprising a wounded soldier with a brand-new muscle car.
Corporal Ethan Laberge suffered multiple injuries to his legs and arm — as well as a traumatic brain injury that causes memory issues — after a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
Leno and Leberge chatted at lunch, and then the comic let the soldier take the wheel of a 2015 Dodge SRT Hellcat. Following the jaunt Leberge told Leno, "That was awesome ... I wouldn't mind having one of these."
With that Leno said, "It's yours," and handed Leberge the keys.
"America loves you," Leno added. "Thank you buddy. Have a lot of fun. Don't get any tickets."