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Editorial: Council rightly stays out of gun show debate

Editorial: Council rightly stays out of gun show debate

Let businesses decide for themselves what events they should host
Editorial: Council rightly stays out of gun show debate
Ken Kennedy looks at pistols during the Gun and Militaria Show at the Saratoga Springs City Center, sponsored by NEACA, in 2016.
Photographer: Erica Miller

Schenectady city officials did something that more governments should do when it comes to the actions of private companies.

Stay out of their business.

Earlier this week, Ray Legere, co-owner of the Schenectady Armory Center, decided for himself to turn down business by rejecting a bid by the New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates to host a gun show at the armory.

If it followed the pattern of other gun shows hosted by the organization, it would have brought hundreds visitors and a lot of money to the armory and other downtown Schenectady businesses.

After some consideration, Legere, given the rash of gun violence in the country, simply decided his venue wasn’t the appropriate place for the gun show at this time. That’s his right as a business owner, and he should be respected for his decision.

Who also should be respected are the mayor and members of the Schenectady City Council for their role in the decision. They had none.

The council could have jumped on the national wave of concern over gun violence and either spoken out against the show on behalf of the government or tried to pass some kind of resolution prohibiting businesses from hosting such events.

That would have been the wrong thing to do. As long as the owner of a business complies with existing local, state and federal laws for hosting such events, the city should let the businesses decide for themselves what they will and will not host.

That’s counter to what the City Council in Saratoga Springs did earlier this year when it made the issue of the gun show at the Saratoga Springs City Center political by passing a lease addendum on the venue to impose a ban on the sale of guns and ammunition at the facility.

Effectively, council members killed the gun show not because it would generate violence or contribute to the mass shootings in the country, but because it made them look like they were being tough on gun violence.

The gun show had been at the City Center for 30 years, with a stellar reputation for safety and abiding by the law. It attracted gun enthusiasts, collectors and hunters from all over.

New York has among the toughest gun laws in the country, particularly when it comes to gun shows. Heavily regulated gun shows like these are tough places for crazed maniacs to buy their weapons.

The vast, vast majority of legitimate sportsmen and collectors who attend such events are not criminals; government intervention in this matter would have labeled them as such. 

Governments have no justification for getting involved in such business decisions. The Schenectady mayor and council rightly let the business decide for itself.

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