A petition with more than 1,500 signatures is calling for gun shows to be kept out of the Westchester County Center.
The petition was launched, in part, as a response to last week’s mass shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, which killed ten people and injured nine others.
The petition was launched on the website MoveOn.org. Its creator, Westchester County resident Charles Bell, calls for County Executive Rob Astorino to permanently ban gun shows at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. The petition has gained 1,650 signatures in the past few days.
Gun shows were banned at the county center, first under previous County Executive Andrew Spano, a Democrat, for 10 years. However, Astorino, a Republican, ended the ban when he came into office in 2010.
While Astorino canceled a gun show at the WCC following 2012’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, a spokesman for the county executive told The Journal News that if a future request to hold a gun show came in from a licensed operator, the county government would consider it.
“Banning sportsman shows… where the sales of firearms to law abiding citizens are fully monitored and include background checks, does not address the fundamental causes behind horrific killings,” Ned McCormack, an Astorino spokesman, told The Journal News. “Our best defense for preventing anti-social, violent behavior is to look at root causes in a comprehensive way that encourages collaboration from all quarters, including supporters of the Second Amendment.”
For all other events at the center, there is a ban on “weapons of any kind.”
Part of Astorino’s unsuccessful campaign for governor last year focused on his goal to repeal Governor Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act. The bill banned the sale of specific weapons and required registration for those already purchased, among other provisions. One of those provisions instituted a requirement for background checks on all gun sales in New York, including at gun shows. New York is one of six states that require background checks at gun shows. The so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows private sellers on the Internet and at gun shows in states without such laws to make sales without requiring background checks, has become a focus of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s announced plan for gun control.
While the petition appears unlikely to influence Astorino, it has gained the support of other Westchester officials. Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feinberg sent his own letter to Astorino this Monday, to call for a ban on gun shows in governmental buildings, including the County Center.