Historic New York gun show homeless after push from anti-gun group

Historic New York gun show homeless after push from anti-gun group

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords along with her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, and New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman, made an appearance at the Saratoga Springs Arms Fair in 2013. Now it is going away. (Photo: AP)

The Saratoga Springs Arms Fair, which has put on over a 100 shows in the past three decades, is looking for a new venue after the City Center refused to book new shows.

Saratogians for Gun Safety has long made the Arms Fair, a semi-annual gun show now in its 33rd year, their nemesis. In 2013, U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, along with New York Attorney Gen. Eric Schneiderman, visited the show and held it an example of compliance with the state’s new SAFE Act gun laws.

Now, the Arms Fair is being told that there are no dates available for the show to book in 2017 or 2018.

“We are booked there for August 20 to 21, and that’s the final booking date there that I’ve got,” show organizer David Petrnois told WAMC radio.

“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.

While City Center and Saratoga County officials aren’t commenting, Downtown Business Association President Tim Holmes told the Saratogian that his group of some 230 local business owners said there has been no push by area merchants to see the Arms Show leave.

“Any time the City Center is full and active it supports downtown merchants,” said Holmes.

As for the gun control advocates, they are upping their campaign to ask gun shows at City Center be banned outright, arguing it encourages the transport and carrying of firearms through Saratoga’s downtown area, drains public safety resources due to police security for the event and “sends the wrong message about our community when the city profits from the sale of guns, especially during a time when tax payers are assuming the additional burden of paying for security in our schools and public institutions.”

This is not the first time that protests from small gun control organizations led to publicly backed fair and community venues suddenly severing ties with long-running gun shows.

In Tennessee, the Metro Nashville Fair Board has been locked in a very public argument over refusal to rent space to Bill Goodman’s Gun and Knife Show, which has been a regular visitor to the fairgrounds since the 1970s, that has led to legal challenges. Metro’s relationship with Goodman began to sour after the Safe Tennessee Project complained of material including items with Confederate flags being sold at the event while simultaneously attempting to link guns in the possession of felons to the shows held at the Fairgrounds.

For the Saratoga Springs Arms Fair, Petrnois contends the show will go on regardless of City Center’s seemingly inability to accommodate them, and is actively searching for other outlets.