Monday, February 12, 2018

Westchester County Center gun show ban: Now it's a law

The law passed 12-5 in a vote split down party lines

by Mark Lungariello, mlungariel [at] Published 8:18 p.m. ET Feb. 5, 2018 | Updated 7:17 a.m. ET Feb. 6, 2018

WHITE PLAINS – Westchester County lawmakers passed a law Monday that bans gun shows on countyowned property, ending a lengthy debate that centered on the Westchester County Center. The ban, which passed in a 12-5 vote, doesn’t apply to gun shows on properties that the county doesn't own. None of the five Republican county legislators voted for the ban.

Legislator Catherine Borgia, an Ossining Democrat, said the ban came out of the thought that county government shouldn't profit from the sale of firearms. She said the law wasn't about contesting legal gun ownership.

It's really about what do we, as a county, promote?" Borgia said. The ban is one of the first high-profile legislative efforts since Democrats took a veto proof supermajority on the Board of Legislators after a blue wave in the 2017 elections.

A similar gun show ban passed the legislature a year ago, but was knocked down by a veto of then-County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican.

Democrats increased their majority on the legislature from nine to 12 in elections last year, and also took the county executive seat. New County Executive George Latimer adopted a no gun show policy on Jan. 2, his second day in office, but making it a law makes the ban permanent.

Legislator Damon Maher, a New Rochelle Democrat who came into office last month, said a gun-show ban was one of the two or three issues that came up most often on the campaign trail last year.

"I think it very basically reflects the values of the great majority of people in my district and throughout the county of Westchester as well," he said.

Gun shows were banned at the Westchester County Center after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in an executive order under previous County Executive Andy Spano, a Democrat. Astorino lifted that ban when he replaced Spano in 2010, but canceled a scheduled show in 2013 after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012.

When another show was scheduled for January 2017, it sparked the legislature passing a bill to ban the show. That bill passed 9-8, with all Democrats on the legislature at the time voting in favor. Astorino vetoed the bill and the gun show was well attended, according to the former administration.