A show in White Plains, N.Y. — brought back a few years ago after being called off for a decade because of the Columbine shooting — is off because officials decided it didn’t seem appropriate now, either.
Gun advocates aren’t backing down from their insistence on the right to keep and bear arms. But heightened sensitivities and raw nerves since the Newtown shootings have led to toned-down displays at gun shows and prompted some officials and sponsors to cancel the usually well-attended exhibitions altogether.
Some of the most popular guns will be missing from next weekend’s gun show in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., after show organizers agreed to bar the display and sale of AR-15 military-style semi-automatic weapons and their large-clip magazines.
“The majority of people wanted these guns out of the city,” said Chris Mathiesen, Saratoga Springs’ public safety commissioner. “They don’t want them sold in our city, and I agree. Newtown, Conn. is not that far away.”
The police chief in Waterbury, Conn., just a few miles from Newtown, has halted permits for gun shows, saying he was concerned about firearms changing hands that might one day be used in a mass shooting.
In Houston, transportation officials temporarily stopped using electronic freeway signs to give directions to gun shows amid complaints following such a show the day after the Dec. 14 school shooting. State-level transportation officials later overruled the decision. The signs are routinely used to direct traffic or tell visitors where to exit freeways for rodeos, sporting events and gun shows.
On Wednesday, the city council in Saratoga Springs urged organizers of a downtown gun show Jan. 12-13 not to display military-style weapons and the high-capacity magazines “of the type used in the Newtown tragedy.” About a dozen people gave impassioned pleas at the meeting.
Show organizer David Petronis of New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates agreed to the limit.
“I don’t think it’s fair that we’re taking the brunt of the problem,” Petronis said, “but I can understand the reaction of people in doing so.”
Petronis said his group is a “nice, clean family-oriented … arms fair” that brings in thousands of visitors and a lot of money for the city. He stressed that buyers at his show undergo background checks, as per New York state law.
The gunman in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December used an AR-15 to kill 20 first-graders and six educators in the school. The gun belonged to the shooter’s mother, but it’s not clear where it was bought. The shooting has led to calls for stricter regulation of assault weapons, though the National Rifle Association has steadfastly opposed such measures.