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Spa City gun buyback program garnered 75 firearms

Spa City gun buyback program garnered 75 firearms

Event promoters run out of gift cards, due to number of guns turned in
Spa City gun buyback program garnered 75 firearms
Some of the firearms turned in by area residents are seen Saturday, during a gun buyback event in Saratoga Springs.
Photographer: provided photo

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city ran out of gift cards to give those who turned in unwanted firearms at its gun buyback event on Saturday. 

Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin said all 61, $100 gift cards were given out within three hours; the event began at 9 a.m. 

Approximately 75 firearms were collected at the Universal Unitarian Congregation of Saratoga Springs. 

"People were very anxious to turn them in, and they started lining up at 8:30 a.m.," he said. "We opened the doors at 9 a.m. and ran out of gift cards by 11:30 a.m."

Fourteen people decided to turn in their firearms, despite not receiving a gift card at the event, which went on until 3 p.m. 

Martin said nearly 70 percent of the guns collected were long guns; the rest were pistols.

"Some were not in working order, and others were in good condition," he said. "We ran the full gamut on the guns collected."

Martin said the buyback program exceeded his expectations. 

"I didn't know we'd go through the full monetary allotment we had," he said. "That was absolutely amazing to me."

Later this week, Martin said he would host a meeting with the Saratoga Springs Police Department, which helped collect and dispose of the guns. 

"We'll come up with ways to make it more efficient, so hopefully we can do another one next year," he said. "I'm very happy with the way it went."

Tom Roohan, of Saratoga Springs-based Roohan Realty, donated $5,000 to help cover the cost of the gift cards. 

"There are homes that have guns that homeowners don't know what to do with," he said. "I'm glad [the city] was successful, and I hope they get a chance to do it again."

Roohan also serves as the chairman of the City Center Authority. 

The New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Association (NEACA) held its final gun show at the City Center on May 26-27, after the City Council voted in March to ban all future gun and ammunition sales at the venue. 

"Many of the [vendors and attendees] are collectors, so they go to the show to trade and look at things," Roohan said. "I don't know if we'll ever have one again unless maybe [NEACA] decides to come back with a different approach."

David Petronis, owner and operator of NEACA, which is based in Mechanicville, said many show attendees and vendors were irritated that it was the last gun show at the City Center. 

"A lot of vendors are losing 20 to 30 percent of their income by not doing the Saratoga show anymore," Petronis said. "I've looked at smaller venues around Saratoga, but it's hard to justify moving the show from a 20,000-square-foot venue to a venue that's half the size."

Petronis said the City Council could change its stance on the gun show. 

"Five people made that rule, so five other people could rescind that rule," he said. "I would certainly like to continue there, but it doesn't seem like we'll be able to do that with this administration. 

"Until that changes, I don't see any way of getting back in there."

Though Petronis said the City Center was one of the nicest in which he's hosted the NEACA show, he's confident his business will continue to thrive. 

"We'll do other shows," he said. "We still have a good following, so it's been good and it'll continue to be good."

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