LAS VEGAS — Comedian Jay Leno canceled a planned appearance at a firearms trade show on the Las Vegas Strip after learning that a group representing victims of gun violence was gathering signatures urging him not to attend, his publicist said Thursday.

Leno made the decision when he was told the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show is hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a group that lobbies for gun owners and manufacturers, said Dick Guttman, spokesman for the former NBC “Tonight Show” host.

“He thought it was a sporting group,” Guttman said. “He understands that it caused concern. He fully understands the sensitivities.”

A statement by the foundation expressed disappointment that Leno won’t perform at the 2015 SHOT Show industry dinner in January.

The statement blamed the decision on pressure from an anti-gun lobby and “false statements about our industry and its commitment to genuine firearms safety.”

Newtown Action Alliance leader Po Murray said Leno called her Wednesday, just hours after her group announced it had collected 6,000 signatures urging Leno to cancel.

Murray and Guttman both said Leno characterized the booking as a mistake.

Murray noted it has been less than two years since a rampaging gunman killed 20 children and six staff members in December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, also killed himself.