WHITE PLAINS — Following Friday’s deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn., County Executive Rob Astorino has decided the Westchester County Center will not host a gun and knife show in February.
“First and foremost, Westchester County mourns with the nation for the families who lost loved ones in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” said Ned McCormack, spokesman for the county executive. “The shows in past years were popular and run in a thoroughly professional manner. But at this time as the country grieves the loss of life in Newtown, a contract renewal is not appropriate.”
In wake of the massacre, local politicians, including Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, called on county officials to renew a ban on firearm and weapon shows at the County Center.
The shows were prohibited for more than a decade by former County Executive Andrew Spano, who instituted a ban shortly after school shootings claimed the lives of 14 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., and left six students wounded at Heritage High School in Conyers, Ga.
“Government buildings shouldn’t be used to promote the purchase of guns,” Feiner said. “We’re sending the wrong message. Somebody told me, ‘We go to the County Center to see Barney — not to buy guns.’”
Astorino brought back the events in 2010 after telling county gun owners during his election campaign that he would reconsider the 11-year ban.
Feiner said Astorino was appealing to the National Rifle Association when the ban was repealed, and that he should strongly reconsider his decision.
Westchester Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins said banning these types of shows at the County Center is part of the answer to curbing gun violence, but the county also needs to address licensing and mental health issues that contribute to the problem.
“It’s our building, and we decide what goes on and what doesn’t go on there,” Jenkins told The Journal News. “We really need to work with all partners at every level of government to address the issues this tragedy in Newtown has brought forward.”
He added that the county board considered legislation that would have instituted a ban in 2010, when a display of Nazi paraphernalia at a County Center gun show drew condemnation. The ban, however, lacked momentum at the time and some county Legislators were opposed to making modifications to it.