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Saratoga Springs City Council To Consider Ban On Gun Sales At City Center


The Saratoga Springs City Council is scheduled to vote Friday morning on a measure that would ban sales of guns and ammunition inside a downtown venue.

On Wednesday, the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority voted unanimously to accept an amended lease from the City of Saratoga Springs to eliminate the sale of firearms and ammunition inside the quasi-public venue.

Democratic Mayor Meg Kelly now hopes the city council will unanimously vote to allow her to sign a lease addendum on Friday morning.

In the weeks following the shooting at a South Florida high school that killed 17, Mayor Kelly, who was elected in November, says it is time the city sends a message.

“In light of what’s going on in our country, it’s time. I don’t want to have anything sold in a city-owned building that is potentially going to put any citizens or other people in any other community in harm’s way,” said Kelly.

The New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates’ gun shows have been a common sight at the City Center for more than three decades.

Organizer David Petronis said a show booked for May in the venue would be his 108th.

“I am quite busy myself. I run 25, 30 gun shows a year. Saratoga City Center is just a part of the schedule.  However, I guess, I should say elections have consequences,” said Petronis.

Petronis is referring to the November election where Kelly was elected over Republican Mark Baker, who served as president of the City Center for 34 years after its inception in 1983.

Petronis, an outspoken 2nd Amendment advocate, predicted a ban on gun shows would draw backlash from supporters.

“There’ll probably be protests at the City Center for guns. It’s getting tiring to me because I just had my 75th birthday. Here I am, 75 years old, trying to do a legal business. And some people have misguided impressions about firearms jumping up and hurting people by themselves are trying to ban ’em,” said Petronis.

Following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook where 26 were killed, the group Saratogians for Gun Safety formed to protest the long-running gun show.

The group’s Susan Steer was pleased with the news of a potential ban at the City Center.

“I’m very, very, very optimistic, more than I’ve ever been since this all happened more than five years ago and we got together and started urging both the City Center board as well as the city council to make whatever changes they could make to stop the gun shows at the City Center,” said Steer.

In October 2013, 2011 shooting survivor and Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and fellow Democrat New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman toured a gun show at the City Center.

The lease addendum to be considered Friday morning is not the only action related to guns sought by Kelly.

“Basically, we’re looking at this from a comprehensive view of safety and security for the entire city,” said Kelly.

Kelly said she is planning to launch a gun buy-back program and is also seeking a request for proposals for security upgrades in city buildings.

The special meeting of the Saratoga Springs City Council will be held at City Hall Friday at 11 a.m.

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