Gun shows near US' Newtown canceled after mass shooting
By Chris Carola and Michael Hill, APSARATOGA SPRINGS, New York -- Several gun shows, all about an hour's drive from Newtown, Connecticut, have been canceled.
January 7, 2013, 12:06 am TWN
A show in White Plains, New York — brought back a few years ago after being called off for a decade because of the Columbine high school shooting — is off because officials decided it didn't seem appropriate now, either. In Danbury, Connecticut — about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Newtown — the venue backed out. Same with three other shows in New York's Hudson Valley, according to the organizer.
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 Dec. 14 Newtown school shooting have led to toned-down displays at gun shows and prompted some officials and sponsors to cancel the well-attended exhibitions altogether.
Some of the most popular guns will be missing from next weekend's gun show in Saratoga Springs, New York, after show organizers agreed to bar the display and sale of AR-15 military-style semiautomatic weapons and their large-clip magazines.
The mayor of Barre, Vermont, wants a ban on military-style assault weapons being sold at an annual gun show in February. Mayor Thom Lauzon says he supports responsible gun ownership but is making the request “as a father.” The police chief in Waterbury, Connecticut, 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 New York's suburban Westchester County, executive Rob Astorino had brought back the show in 2010 after a ban of more than a decade following the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, but he said the show would be inappropriate now. The shows in the Hudson Valley and Danbury were listed as canceled on the website for Big Al's Gun Shows. A man who answered the site's contact number said it was the venues that canceled the shows, not the promoter.
On Wednesday, the Saratoga Springs City Council 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.
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 before killing himself as police closed in. The gun belonged to the shooter's mother, who was fatally shot earlier, 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, the influential U.S. gun-rights lobbying group, has steadfastly opposed such measures.
Gun dealers around the country are reporting a spike in sales of semiautomatic rifles amid renewed talk of a federal ban on assault weapons. The possibility of tighter gun control regulations has also pumped up attendance at gun shows in several states.