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Popular Gun Show Exits Saratoga Springs City Center

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David Petronis has organized gun shows at the Saratoga Springs City Center for 32 years. Last October, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held with local officials and the Chamber of Commerce to mark its 100th show.

But after its August show, Petronis and New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates will have to find a new venue.

“We are booked there for August 20 to 21, and that’s the final booking date there that I’ve got,” said Petrnois.

Petronis said the City Center told him it no longer had dates for him this year or going into next.

City Center president Mark Baker did not respond to a request for comment.

Petronis said he was not given another reason.

“You can run an antique show, or if you can run a healthcare event, or if you can run any other things there that people are making at, why can’t I make money at my legitimate gun show that the Attorney General of New York State says is the safest place to buy a gun?” said Petronis.

In October 2013, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, joined by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, visited the NEACA show in Saratoga Springs. There, Giffords, who had been shot in the head by a gunman outside a Tuscon supermarket in January 2011, praised the show’s voluntary background checks and sales documentation.

Schneiderman led a push for gun shows across the state to adopt new safety rules just months after the signing of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s gun control law, the SAFE Act.

But the show in Saratoga Springs has consistently faced resistance. The group Saratogians for Gun Safety, formed weeks after the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has protested outside the City Center during gun shows and pushed city leaders to end the show.

The group recently collected more than 1,500 signatures on a petition to end the gun show. Group member Dierdre Ladd…

“And we just felt that the City Center shouldn’t host these shows given where it is located, in the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs near schools and churches and synagogues,” said Ladd.

The group is calling the show’s exit a win.

The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee voted in June to ask the city council, which is controlled by Democrats 4 to 1, to adopt an ordinance banning gun shows and the sale of firearms at the City Center.

City mayor Joanne Yepsen told the Times Union she did not “want anything negative to happen as a result of a purchase of a firearm here.” Though the City Center is a quasi-public agency, Yepsen said she could not speak for the independent City Center Authority.

Petronis, who was setting up for a gun show at the Riley Rink in Manchester, Vermont on Friday afternoon, said he will look for other venues.

“I’m gonna have to try to find new venues to run other shows so our dealers and exhibitors and collectors with NEACA, our New Eastcoast Arms Collectors, can go and find a place to enjoy their hobby and collect guns,” said Petronis.

Petronis said he and his wife have already gotten calls from other venues interested in hosting the event.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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