Gun owners will have to put their rifles in cases before carrying them in downtown Saratoga Springs under a new local law passed Tuesday night.
The City Council passed an amendment to the City Code requiring all firearms to be in opaque cases. Mayor Scott Johnson and Accounts Commissioner John Franck voted against the measure; commissioners Chris Mathiesen, Michele Madigan and Anthony “Skip” Scirocco voted for it.
“I think a significant number of people would find it intimidating,” Mathiesen said of seeing guns out in the open downtown.
Though state law regulates handguns, gun owners are allowed to carry rifles in public unless the municipality has a local law requiring them to be in cases.
The law was proposed after people complained that during a gun show in January at the City Center, new gun owners toted their rifles while walking along Broadway and people felt alarmed seeing the weapons in the open.
“If that person were me, I would hit the deck,” Madigan said.
But Johnson and Franck both pointed out that people buying weapons at the gun show have to get to their cars afterward, and both questioned the need for the law.
“I have no data, no facts that support any allegation that people just randomly walk up and down Broadway carrying guns,” Johnson said.
The law includes exceptions for police officers and members of the military and allows firearms to be displayed at parades and ceremonies.
Most people who spoke during a public hearing favored the new law.
Resident DeDe Hill was one of several gun show protesters outside the City Center who saw a man carrying two rifles down Broadway and said it seemed like the man was carrying the guns to intimidate the protesters.
“Then he deliberately crossed the street into an area where there was a pro-gun rally, where he was greeted with cheers,” Hill said. “I’m pretty certain that not many responsible gun owners would carry a long-armed rifle down city streets.”
City Police Officer Tony Straus, who said he goes to gun shows, agreed with Hill and said he would be alarmed to see people walking with rifles not in a case.
“You buy your guns — put it in a safe container; put it in your car,” he said.
Another man, also a gun owner, said that at gun shows, sellers lock open the gun’s breech so it can’t be loaded.
“Those things are done to an extreme,” he said of the safety measures. “There’s never been an incident in Saratoga.”
The City Council also voted Tuesday to hire two new police officers with money it expects to receive from the state for hosting video lottery terminals.
The new officers would cost the city an additional $59,000 this year plus money that is already budgeted in the public safety department’s health insurance fund and $160,000 next year.
And the council voted unanimously to name a portion of an alley Connolly Way in memory of Donald Connolly, Republican accounts commissioner from 1970 to 1981. The part of Long Alley between Division Street and Woodlawn Avenue, which goes past the city’s new parking garage, will take Connolly’s name.