Gun show draws fire from Spa residents, council

Posted at: 01/03/2013 12:00 AM
Updated at: 01/03/2013 10:35 AM
By: Dan Levy

SARATOGA SPRINGS - An upcoming gun show at the Saratoga City Center drew heavy fire Wednesday night from gun control advocates who were demanding action from their city council.

The move comes in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. massacre and at a time when Saratoga residents say they emotions are "still raw."

Many of the people who crowded into the city council chambers were angry and outraged that a gun show is scheduled to be held in their community Jan. 12 and 13.

"We still have more than a week to go. They can still cancel the contract any time," suggested Susan Steer, a city resident, who spearheaded a petition drive, collecting more than 1,200 signatures from people who want no part of a gun show in their city.

Many speakers at Wednesday night's meeting share Steer's sentiment.

"I don't see why our taxpayer-funded facilities need to be encouraging this," said Bob Turner.

"These weapons may be legal, but that doesn't necessarily make them appropriate," opined Carol Maxwell.

"If we use our First Amendment right to battle their Second Amendment rights, let's be as noisy and disruptive as we can," said Phil Diamond.

Those comments came during a jam-packed meeting where Christian Mathiesen, the city's public safety commissioner, introduced a resolution urging gun show vendors not to display semi-automatic weapons or high-capacity ammo clips like the ones used at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.

"I do expect to see full compliance from these vendors regarding this," Mathiesen said.

The city's finance commissioner, Michele Madigan, thought the resolution didn't go far enough.

"I would like to make it a bit stronger," Madigan said. "It should say we don't (want them) displayed, we don't want them under the table and we do not (want them sold) at this particular gun show."

That resolution passed unanimously.

Meanwhile, David Petronis, the Mechanicville businessman who has been running the Saratoga gun show for nearly 30 years, says telling his vendors they can't sell certain items is "too mind-boggling for him to react."

He says it goes against what he's already told his vendors, that they can't "display semi-automatic weapons."

Petronis says he plans to meet with City Center leaders on Thursday to discuss the resolution.