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.