WNYT.com

Cops, demonstrators prepare for Saratoga Springs gun show

Posted at: 01/11/2013 3:11 PM
Updated at: 01/11/2013 6:03 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The set up was underway Friday afternoon for the weekend arms show at the City Center.

Exhibitors will display and sell their pistols, rifles and ammunition for two days.

The show happens here three or four times a year and this one was scheduled long before the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

"What's happening now, the protests tomorrow, is a reaction, a knee-jerk reaction to get rid of our show, to get rid of guns in general," said Dave Petronis, promoter of the show.

The mass shooting in Connecticut brought more attention to this show, which has been taking place here since 1984.  But some in the community argue it shouldn't take place at a taxpayer supported venue like the City Center.

"We feel that it's a question of our children's safety and we don’t want this type of access to these types of weapons so close to where we've chosen to raise our families," said Deirdre Ladd who is part of a group that tried to get the show canceled.

She's a also a member of one of the three anti-gun violence groups that have obtained permits to demonstrate outside the City Center.

That group, calling itself Saratogians for Gun Safety, is borrowing an idea from an artist in the Newtown, Ct.-area who made 26 wooden angels and placed them near Sandy Hook Elementary."

Demonstrators will carry the angels while someone reads the names of those killed by guns.

"I want to carry the idea and keep the memory alive of the Sandy Hook shooting because I consider it a watershed moment in the history of America," said Charlie Samuels, as he took a break from making one of the angels.

Samuels vows that his group's protest will be peaceful, but police are aware of the emotionally charged nature of the gun debate and say two pro-gun groups have also gotten permits to demonstrate.

"We are making plans to increase our staffing, just to make sure things go as smoothly as they can," said Chief Chris Cole of the Saratoga Springs Police Department.

The show runs Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 9 o'clock.