Saturday, December 24, 2016

Lawmakers' move to block gun show to face veto, but new rules offered

by Mark Lungariello ,, The Journal News
December 23, 2016
A veto is likely for any gun-show ban.
Republicans instead are proposing a law that would establish gun show procedures.
A move to block the upcoming gun show at the Westchester County Center isn't likely to go far, but stricter regulations are now on the table.

Mike Kaplowitz, a Democrat and chairman of the Board of Legislators, said County Executive Rob Astorino fueled the gun debate when he booked the show, the first at the center in four years.

“The speculation is this is just a crass political move on his part to garner support in the county for his upcoming runs for county executive and governor,” he said.

The Republican incumbent is up for re-election next year and is eyeing a second run for New York state governor in 2018, after he lost to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014.

Kaplowitz said he’ll fast-track a bill that would immediately ban gun shows on county-owned property so that it’s voted on Jan. 9 – ahead of the gun show on Jan. 21 and 22.

But, the county executive will veto any bill banning gun shows, his spokesman Phil Oliva confirmed Wednesday. An override would need 12 votes, and reaching that number is impossible without support from a few of the seven Republicans and one Conservative Party member on the 17-member board.
Counter proposal
As a counter proposal to an outright ban, the Republican caucus is instead proposing a law that would establish gun show procedures. The bill, which would follow a model established by state Attorney General Eric T. Schiederman, would make residents “feel more secure” about gun shows by having strict requirements, the GOP caucus said in a joint statement.

“We can take an important step in Westchester that will preserve the Constitutional protections of citizens while assuring the public that a proven successful procedure for the event is in place,” Republican Majority Leader John Testa said in the statement.

The proposed guidelines include requirements for tagging sold guns to show they’ve met background checks under state law, the posting of signs about state background-check requirements and police patrols to prevent illegal gun sales outside of and around the building.

Kaplowitz said he anticipates that second proposal will go to vote alongside the ban on Jan. 9.
The public's view
Some county residents said the debate is all for naught, with the vendors following state laws and the gun shows being safe.

Greenburgh resident Chris Coppolecchia, 37, said he’s thrilled to see a show back at the center and said bans were politically motivated in a liberal-leaning county where gun enthusiasts are in a minority.

By taking money from hosting the show, the county isn’t taking a stand on the issue, he said.

“The subject matter shouldn’t matter much from having a comic-book show, tattoo show or a pet rescue event,” he said. “Apparently, there is enough interest from the public that will draw a sizeable enough of a crowd. It provides a safe environment for people who share a common interest.”

Former County Executive Andy Spano, a Democrat, enacted a gun-show ban at the center after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Astorino lifted the ban upon coming into office in 2010, but canceled a show scheduled for February 2013 after a gunman murdered 20 students and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

Astorino is bringing the show back after several pushes from Democratic lawmakers to pass a law that would ban gun shows at the center and all other county-owned properties. News of the upcoming gun show caught Democratic legislators off-guard, with Kaplowitz saying he only heard of the show when asked about it by a Journal News/ reporter on Monday.

The Democratic caucus quickly called for a vote on the dormant ban legislation.

The county is expecting to take in between $40,000 and $50,000 over the two days, according to Astorino’s spokesman. That includes a $23,000 flat fee, $2 per ticket sold and parking and sales tax revenue. Chairman Kaplowitz has countered that any income would be offset by the cost of added security at and around the center.

Twitter: @marklungariello

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Democrats Call for Vote on Gun Show Ban

Democrats Call for Vote on Gun Show Ban  (News Release, 12/20/16)

News from the Democratic Caucus
For Immediate Release: December 20, 2016

(WHITE PLAINS, NY)  Upon learning of the proposed gun and knife show slated to take place at the Westchester County Center in January, members of the Democratic Caucus are outraged and committed to take action.

“I first introduced the County Gun Show Ban in 2010, when I heard of the actions taken by the County Executive. Since that time, I have fought to have a fair hearing for this bill that aims to ensure the Westchester County Center is used for purposes that promote the positive ideals that make up one of our County’s most treasured assets” said Legislator Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “I am asking that Board of Legislators immediately hold a vote on the proposed gun show ban legislation. We need to discuss how we as a County feel about using our facilities on purposes so closely associated with horrific violence” added Jenkins.

A ban on gun shows at the County Center was instituted by former County Executive Andy Spano but was later rescinded by the current County Executive in 2010.

“To host this sale of firearms and knives on County property sends the wrong message to those we have been elected to serve” said Legislator Ben Boykin, Chair, Committee on Public Safety and Social Services (D-White Plains). “The County Center is the home of an exciting local basketball team, many of our children have graduated in that building, each weekend it is filled with County residents excited to learn about whatever new exhibit is in town. To use this family friendly property to sell weapons is not in the best interests of Westchester County residents. I fully expect my committee to bring legislation to the full Board of Legislators for a vote” added Boykin.

Legislator Catherine Parker (D-Rye), who has recently held meetings with residents concerned about the opening of a gun store in Harrison, added “this is a growing trend in Westchester County and we on the Board of Legislators need to send a clear message that enough is enough. Everyone has seen too many stories of gun violence in communities all over the country. We should be doing everything we can to keep these weapons out of our County not inviting them in.”

“In our current climate, with reported threats of violence at more than one Westchester school in recent weeks, it sends a terrible message for the County to sanction a gun show on its property. The County should not put the community at risk, and potentially create liability for our taxpayers. It's time for the County to reinstate the gun show ban on its own property” said Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson).

Gun show returns to Westchester County Center

By Kimberly Redmond , The Journal News 7:36 p.m. EST December 19, 2016
The show is scheduled for Jan. 21 and 22.
The planned return of a gun show to the Westchester County Center after a four-year hiatus has local Democrats calling for the county to reinstate an earlier ban on such expos.
County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, lifted the ban in 2010, after it had been put in place by his predecessor, Democrat Andrew Spano, following the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado.
However, after a gunman murdered 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, Astorino canceled a show scheduled for February 2013 at the center, and there hasn't been one since.
That'll change next month, when Westchester Collectors which has hosted gun shows since the early 1980s at the venue, returns with a 350-table sportsman firearm and knife show/sale on Jan. 21 and 22.
On sale will be modern, antique and collectible firearms, ammunition, handguns, knives, military-style weapons, books and gun-related memorabilia. But not if longtime gun show critic Paul Feiner has something to say about it.
"I am very upset that a gun show is being scheduled for the County Center in January, right after Donald Trump's inauguration as president," said Feiner, the Democratic town supervisor of Greenburgh. "I don't believe that gun shows should be held in government buildings. The county should not encourage people to purchase guns. If people want to buy guns they should purchase guns elsewhere at private locations."
Feiner called again Monday for the county to reinstate the ban on firearms and gun shows in county facilities. He made similar requests following a mass shooting last year at Umpqua Community College in Oregon and after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.
"It's bad policy to take tax dollars from this controversial industry," said county Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers. "It's bad taste to have a gun show with Sandy Hook next door. And, it's bad faith for the county executive to sneak this in when everyone is off celebrating the holidays and the New Year. It's outrageous and I'll be supporting legislation to ban it and I believe we have the majority votes needed."
Kapolowitz added that it's "not acceptable" that he only learned the show had been scheduled when The Journal News/lohud contacted him Monday for a comment, rather than by the county offices.
Beyond confirming the event, "We don't have a general comment other than that this sportsmen's show has been well-run and well-attended in the past and we hope and expect that the upcoming show will be every bit as successful," said Philip Oliva, a spokesman for the county executive's office.
The show is hosted in conjunction with the NRA, and its organizers told attendees to be prepared to undergo the background checks required by law to buy any firearms at the event.
A listing for the show does not appear on the county center's website, which touts a circus and a home show among other upcoming events.
Oliva said the person who handles those listings was out last week and it should be online in a few days. He said the gun show has been advertised on the electronic marquee outside the County Center since last week.
The county is expected to receive $23,000 from Westchester Collectors to rent the space, along with $2 per admission ticket sold, according to Astorino's office.
In 2015, a petition calling for a ban on gun shows at the County Center didn't go far, with Astorino saying he had no plans to limit firearms shows there and that the county would consider a request made by a licensed operator in the future. An October 2015 proposal by Democrats on the Board of Legislators for the ban never advanced.
Noting Astorino's ambitions of one day holding state office, Feiner said, "He thinks it'll help him upstate by appealing to right-wing Republicans, rather that what the people in Westchester want, which is no guns in government buildings."
Feiner said he would send a letter to Astorino and the Board of Legislators on Tuesday, urging them to cancel the show.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Gun Violence in America Fact Sheet

"I promise to do all I can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools and communities."

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Child Access Prevention

Cross-posted from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence web site:
PROBLEM: Researchers have found that millions of children live in homes with easily accessible guns. The presence of unlocked guns in the home increases the risk of accidental gun injuries, intentional shootings and suicides. New York State currently has no law specifically penalizing a person who enables a child to access a firearm.
SOLUTION:  New York needs a child access prevention (CAP) law to impose criminal liability on adults who negligently leave firearms accessible to children or otherwise allow children access to firearms.  Child access prevention/safe storage laws save lives by reducing accidental shootings and suicides and also by preventing theft of guns that end up in the illegal market. New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV)  is advocating for the enactment of  A.53/S.2291, Nicholas’s Law: The Child Access Prevention or Safe Weapon Storage Act , which would require the  safe storage of guns not in the immediate possession of the owner.