Saugerties gun show could take place at Kiwanis Ice Arena amid controversy

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SAUGERTIES – The gun show is back. Or at least, that’s what its operator is planning as city officials consider whether to shut down an event that’s becoming controversial in Saugerties.

Last week it was revealed that the gun show scheduled at Kiwanis Ice Arena on Father’s Day weekend has been canceled in light of recent gun violence across the country. The announcement was made in a statement from Saugerties Town Supervisor Fred Costello Jr. and David Petronis, president of New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates, which runs the gun show.

A few days later, however, Petronis said he still plans to hold the event on June 18 and 19 in hopes of drawing a large crowd and ‘sticking liberals in the eye’ with a good show. . City officials are split on how to handle the show, with a potential debate at Wednesday night’s city council meeting when there could be a vote on whether to cancel the event.

Costello, who had supported the cancellation, could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday. Members of the city council, however, revealed on Monday that a dispute could be looming.

“At our city council meeting on Wednesday evening, we will vote on a resolution to reimburse Mr. Petronis for his expenses,” city council member Leeanne Thornton said in an email. “As a board member, I don’t think a gun show should be a permitted use on city property and I will be supporting a motion to make sure it’s not. not permitted use for rental of the facility in the future.

“Due to the location of our youth soccer fields, skate park and baseball complex, not to mention across from the 7-12 Saugerties school building, to host a display of firearms at this venue is not appropriate If the promoter wishes to hold an event in the Hudson Valley, there are other areas that would be more appropriate for this type of venue in the Hudson Valley region. ‘Hudson.”

City Council member Zachery Horton, however, said if there was a motion to decide the fate of the event, “I think it will be a close vote.”

Gun Show in Limbo

Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra released a statement Thursday announcing the cancellation of the gun show, which has been held in Saugerties several times in the past.

“Given the recent events of gun violence, both here in New York and the tragic event in Texas, continuing this gun show would have been irresponsible and insensitive to anyone who has recently lost loved ones,” Petronis said in that statement. .

This violence includes shootings in Buffalo, where 10 people were killed by a gunman in a supermarket on May 14, and in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, when a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in a primary school.

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In the statement, Costello supported the show’s cancellation.

On Friday, however, Petronis sent a letter to the city council asking its members to disregard his statement and allow him to hold the show.

In his letter, Petronis said Costello, Sinagra and Rob Kleeman, who runs the city’s ice rink, called him last Wednesday and asked, “out of the blue,” if he could cancel the show. Officials mentioned the possibility of protesters, Petronis said, and suggested he hire off-duty police for security.

That group got another call Thursday, when officials said they could reimburse Petronis if he canceled the show, he said. Officials again mentioned the possibility of Petronis paying for police security, he said, and Sinagra told him the police would have to shut down the show if there was any unrest or violence at the venue. outside. Sinagra could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

A gun show is scheduled at the Kiwanis Ice Arena in Saugerties on Father's Day weekend.  Whether it will take place remains in question.

Petronis agreed to issue a joint press release with the city, he said, but that statement was sent before he was told he was ready to leave.

Petronis said in his letter that he sees “how political this show has become,” but wants to continue.

“Notwithstanding the tragic events that have recently taken place across the country, and know that I and all of our gun fraternity and dealers abhor these events, we, and you all know, it was not the fault of the weapon but rather the insane actions and wrongdoing of the mental minds of insane individuals,” he said. “Banning guns is not the answer to deranged shooters doing their evil duties, better mental health guidelines, tougher schools and educating our young population about their historic and awesome American past would help more to resolve these events.”

Controversy in Saugerties

A message on Petronis’ website further explains its stance that the show must go on. He said he expects TV cameras to cover this situation and “controversy brings the news, the news brings the people.”

“Asking my exhibitors, they all want to keep coming and they see a great show moving forward,” he added. “The flyer and poster advertising has been out for two months and now with all this controversy in the newspapers and online, we should have huge crowds, if nothing else from the gun-owning public than just sticking the liberals in the eye with a good show of support for our show.”

So, will the show continue? Horton said that may not be clear until Wednesday night’s board meeting.

“I’m still supportive of the show going ahead,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think Petronis should have to pay for security if the event takes place. Horton cited similar events in the past where organizers weren’t required to pay for security.

“If this continues, if we’re looking to keep things fair, I don’t think he should be held to a different standard than past events,” he said.

Petronis said he was in touch with Kiwanis Ice Arena staff on Monday morning and they were ready to host the show this weekend. If the event takes place, he doesn’t know if he will have to pay for security, but “if they tell me I have to do it, then I have to do it”.

Matt Spillane covers breaking news throughout the Hudson Valley. Click on here for his latest stories. Follow him on Twitter @MattSpillane. Discover our latest subscription offers here.

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