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Saratoga Springs leaders ban gun, ammunition sales at City Center

Saratoga Springs leaders ban gun, ammunition sales at City Center

NEACA gun show in May will go on as planned; no shows allowed after that
Saratoga Springs leaders ban gun, ammunition sales at City Center
Don Hall speaks at Saratoga Springs City Council meeting for the addendum to lease agreement between the City Center and city.
Photographer: Erica Miller

Correction: A previous version of this story misquoted Sam Brewer.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council unanimously voted Friday to ban sales of guns and ammunition at the Saratoga Springs City Center.

The next New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates (NEACA) gun show in Saratoga Springs is scheduled for May 25-27 at the City Center.

"The amendment was unanimously approved by the City Center Authority on Wednesday to prohibit the sales of guns and ammunition within the venue," said Mayor Meg Kelly. "The arms fair in May will go on as contracted.

"This is merely one step in addressing safety in city facilities."

The special meeting was attended by a large crowd.

Saratoga Springs resident Sam Brewer was one of the more than 10 people who spoke at the meeting.

"The Second Amendment is an individual right and is not able to be restricted," he said. "I don't think the city has the authority to limit gun sales — it's an infringement on Second Amendment rights.

Brewer, who served in the United States Air Force for 10 years, said there are other ways to address gun violence.

"I hope they look deeper at the causes of violent crimes," he said. "They need to look at instability during adolescent development and relationship dynamic issues."

Rev. Joe Cleveland, of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, thanked City Council members for taking the step to prohibit guns sales on city property.

"Saratoga Springs is about health, history and horses, but they left the most important 'H' out, and that's hospitality," he said. "We don't want to celebrate trading instruments of death and terror. We don't want to bring those instruments into the center of who we are."

City Center Executive Director Ryan McMahon said the New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates gun show was the first contracted event at the venue, more than 30 years ago.

"It's been around a long time," he said. "The show will go on in May, but anything after that would be a violation of our lease. This action reflects the spirit of cooperation between the City Center and the City Council."

Don Hall, former principal of Dorothy Nolan Elementary School in Saratoga Springs, said the city is stopping a legal business.

"Guns aren't the killers — why don't you look more at mental health and closing the bars before 3 a.m.," he said. "This is going in the wrong direction. This is a man's livelihood."

David Petronis, owner and operator of New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates, said the city's action puts his show out of business in Saratoga Springs. 

"By banning guns from the City Center, they're picking me out, so they have to ban them from Saratoga Springs entirely," he said. "They can ban whatever they want until the cows come home, but it's not going to stop anything."

Petronis said he took several calls from business owners who exhibit at his gun show in Saratoga Springs. 

"They're saying this will drive them out of business," he said. "The City Center show is 25 to 30 percent of their business."

Those who choose to buy guns at his gun show must have money to purchase them and pass background checks, Petronis said. 

The May show marks the 108th gun show for Petronis, who said he is exploring options. 

"I have three choices," he said. "I can fold up shop and go home, fight them or file a lawsuit. I might have to build my own place. It might come down to that, but we'll see."

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