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.
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/lohud.com 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.