The promoter of next week’s NEACA Gun Fair at the Saratoga Springs City Center has agreed not to exhibit or sell semi-automatic weapons or high capacity ammunition magazines similar to those used in the Newtown school shooting at the show.
David Petronis, the owner along with his wife Cathy of NEACA (New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates) met with Saratoga County Supervisor Joanne Yepsen and City Center President Mark Baker on Thursday. They discussed, among other things, a non-binding resolution passed on Wednesday night by the City Council. The original resolution simply asked that the items not be exhibited. However, following statements by a dozen residents during the meeting’s public comment period, all but one against the gun show, the council added two words to the resolution – ‘or sell.’ It now states that “semi-automatic weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines of the type used in the Newtown (Connecticut) tragedy” will not be exhibited or sold at the NEACA Arms Fair.
Petronis had already agreed to ask exhibitors not to display the items, but had been reluctant to prevent them from being available at the show. After Thursday’s meeting though, he said having the council add those two words to the resolution made a big difference. “So that changed the game. With those two extra words, I had to make a decision, and the decision I made was to abide by what they requested for this upcoming show.”
Yepsen says the public outpouring at the city council meeting is what led to the change of heart by Petronis. “They knew at the city council table that I was not happy with the way (the resolution) was written. I didn’t think it was strong enough, because (Petronis) had already agreed verbally to not exhibit them. But we don’t want them hidden in boxes. We don’t want them, period. So we needed to strengthen that resolution, and I’m glad it was clearly the public comment that encouraged the council to take a stronger position, I feel.”
Petronis says he can get the exhibitors to go along with the change because he has the ability to change the rules they must follow if they want to be a part of the show. “They would still have to honor what the rules and regulations of the show are, and they may change from time to time. So for this particular show the rules changed.”
Regulation #10 in the NEACA contract with exhibitors states in part that the promoter “must insist upon the full cooperation of our collectors, dealers and exhibitors to adhere to all General Show Regulations for the safety and benefit of all.”
Yepsen says no one got everything they wanted on Thursday. “Look, a lot of my constituents would like to see this thing cancelled. Petronis would prefer to allow his vendors to make as much money as they can so the show would be successful in their eyes. This is a compromise. Everybody’s gone out of their comfort zone to make this happen, to be sensitive and to respond to our community’s wishes.
“Our community does not want these assault weapons in our city,” she says, “and this is one way our community can make a statement and do something in honor of the victims in Newtown. This is a way we can do something locally.”
The NEACA Gun Fair takes place January 11-13.
ON THE WIRE