Susan Steer hopes to have at least 1,000 signatures by New Year’s Day on her online petition opposing an upcoming gun show at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
“I’d like to see the whole thing cancelled,” said Steer, a maternity nurse at Saratoga Hospital and the mother of three.
Steer said she is concerned that military-style, semiautomatic weapons like those used in recent massacres might be sold at the show.
City Center officials and David Petronis of Mechanicville, who is planning the New EastCoast Arms Collectors Associates arms fair Jan. 11-13, said Friday the event will be held as planned.
More than 900 people had signed the online petition at change.org as of Friday. The petition asks the City Center Authority’s board of directors to cancel the show.
“The residents of this community are still shocked and horrified about the shooting and killing of 26 young children and adults that occurred just last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” the petition says. “Our feelings are still raw. This shooting is especially frightening given the fact that in the past year, a local man threatened to torture and kill elementary age school children at a school here in Saratoga County.”
This is a reference to Brent Dickinson, 34, of Saratoga Springs, who is currently serving 1 to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to making terroristic threats, which included a threat to President Barack Obama, as well as local elementary school children. Prosecutors said he is mentally ill.
“The thought of allowing NEACA to hold a gun show at the city center just a few weeks after the shooting where a person could purchase military style, semi-automatic weapons, shocks our conscience and shows a lack of sensitivity to the residents of Newtown who are still deeply mourning the loss of their loved ones,” Steer’s petition says. “While it may come at a financial cost, out of respect for those young children and adults who died and for those who lost loved ones, we urge you to incur that cost and cancel the gun show.”
Steer said Friday that since the Newtown shooting, three gun shows have been cancelled in Danbury, Conn., Poughkeepsie, and Suffern.
Mark Baker, president of the City Center, said NEACA has a valid, binding contract.
“We have no intention of not honoring that contract,” he said.
Baker said he has spoken to Steer and said she “sounded like a very nice person.”
He said he and his staff do not lack “sensitivity to the concerns raised by Newtown.”
“But we are placing a non-involved entity into question,” Baker said about the NEACA, which has been holding up to four gun shows per year at the City Center since the mid-1980s.
“The commitment is there. The rooms are reserved,” he said.
Petronis said Friday about 80 vendors are signed up for the event. They come from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Long Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and western New York.
“That is their livelihood. This we depend on it to pay our bills,” Petronis said.
He said a vendor who sells the Bushmaster, a tactical, AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle like the one used in Newtown, is not coming to the Jan. 11-13 show. Any other arms vendor who may have such a weapon will not be able to display it at the show.
Petronis said earlier this month in an email to exhibitors that his company has been working with the state Attorney General’s Office for a year, and he has signed an agreement regarding new state regulations for gun shows. These rules include having the buyer of a gun at shows go through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System and receive permission for the sale.
All guns coming into a gun show must also have a tag identifying the owner and must either leave with the same tag or a tag indicating the gun has been sold by a dealer holding a Federal Firearms License through the NICS system.
Steer said she plans to present her petition to the City Center Authority board at a meeting in early January.