SCHENECTADY -- The head of a local gun association is planning to host a gun show at the Schenectady Armory Center in September, but some city officials don't think it's a done deal.
Less than two months after its final gun show at the Saratoga Springs City Center, the New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Association announced Tuesday it would host its fall show at the armory.
According to association President David Petronis, the gun show is scheduled for Sept. 29 and 30 at the Washington Avenue armory. It will feature 250 tables, each 8 feet long, for vendors to display their wares. The same as the show the association set up in Saratoga Springs.
However, it was unclear on Wednesday whether the venue itself is on the same page.
Ray Legere, co-owner of the Armory Center, said in a text message that armory representatives had been speaking with Petronis for the past two years about hosting a show, but nothing was ever finalized.
Legere then referred all questions to Tom Petricca, general manager at Legere Restorations, about the September event. Petricca did not return several requests for comment.
Petronis, though, said he had a "gentleman's agreement" with Petricca for the event. He said he was told to just send a deposit, which Petronis said he had not done as of Wednesday.
The Armory space would be a larger venue than the Saratoga Springs City Center. Petronis said there is space that could allow the organization to offer a Friday night preview to members, a practice that was offered at one point for the City Center shows, but that ended a few years ago, Petronis said.
The last show at the Saratoga Springs City Center came after the City Council voted to ban the sale of guns or ammunition at that venue, a decision that came in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Petronis said he's still looking at other options for a replacement of the Saratoga Springs show, but that the armory could be a regular venue, if things work out.
"We'd like to do a few shows there," Petronis said. "I'd like to see how the first one goes."
Petronis said the first gun show he ever attended was in Schenectady at the former IUE union hall at the foot of Erie Boulevard, just yards from the armory. That was about 35 years ago, Petronis estimated. The union hall today is home to the Zone 5 Regional Law Enforcement Training Academy.
He said he also organized a gun show in Schenectady 10 or 15 years ago at the Center City building on State Street. Any of the shows he organized in Schenectady were “very well attended," he said.
Petronis said a large percentage of the association’s mailing list, which he estimated at 40,000 homes, are residents of Schenectady, Amsterdam and Johnstown.
Several city officials were asked Wednesday about their thoughts on a gun show coming to the city.
Mayor Gary McCarthy said he was told the show wasn’t a definite.
“I don’t have a formal opinion at this point because it’s still in flux,” he said. “I’m apprehensive about these types of events.”
Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said that, since the armory is a private business, there’s really nothing the City Council can do. However, she said her opinion doesn’t matter.
“What I see our role is, if the constituents raise their voices in favor or not in favor, at that point, if we have an overwhelming majority either way, we as a City Council apply pressure appropriately,” Perazzo said. “It’s not about my personal opinion; it’s the constituents.”
Since the announcement was fresh, Perazzo said she hadn’t heard any feedback.
Councilwoman Marion Porterfield said that, if a gun show were to happen in the city, she thinks the council should be briefed on it, instead of hearing about it through the media. That’s because the topic of guns is controversial, Porterfield said.
She didn’t say whether it was a good idea for a gun show to be hosted in the city, saying she needed to know more before sharing her thoughts.
“It’s such a controversial thing, I think it’s a good idea to make the city aware of it,” Porterfield said, adding she had never been to a gun show. “I want to know what the parameters of it are. I have no idea. I would like to know more.”
Other council members were even less committal.
“I’ll comment on it if and when it ever happens,” Councilman John Polimeni said. “I’m not dealing in hypotheticals.”
Councilman John Mootooveren said he wasn’t aware of a gun show coming to the city. Before making a comment, he said he wanted to call someone first.
He did not call back on Wednesday.
According to independent Councilman Vince Riggi, whether a private business wants to have a gun show or not isn’t the council’s business. He said he didn’t have an opinion on it either way.
“I don’t think it’s something we should be weighing in on unless it’s breaking city code,” Riggi said.
The idea of hosting another gun show in Schenectady was exciting for Petronis, who added that he’s always liked the city.
“Schenectady looks like it’s on its way up,” Petronis said. “I hope to be a part of it.”
But if it’s not meant to be, Petronis said he’s fine with that, too. If there are people in the city that don’t want it to happen, then so be it, he said.
“If the mayor says he doesn’t want it there, we won’t have it there. I’ll go somewhere else,” Petronis said. “If Ray [Legere] doesn’t want to do it, we won’t do it.”