The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 5, 2013

Some gun shows canceling after Conn. shooting

MANKATO — Four gun shows, all about an hour's drive from Newtown, Conn., all canceled.

A show in White Plains, N.Y., — brought back a few years ago after being called off for a decade because of the Columbine shooting — is off because officials decided it didn't seem appropriate now, either. In Danbury, Conn. — about 10 miles west of Newtown — the venue backed out. Same with three other shows in New York's Hudson Valley, according to the organizer.

Gun advocates aren't backing down from their insistence on the right to keep and bear arms. But heightened sensitivities and raw nerves since the Newtown shooting have led to toned-down displays at gun shows and prompted some officials and sponsors to cancel the well-attended exhibitions altogether.

Some of the most popular guns will be missing from next weekend's gun show in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., after show organizers agreed to bar the display and sale of AR-15 military-style semiautomatic weapons and their large-clip magazines.

"The majority of people wanted these guns out of the city," said Chris Mathiesen, Saratoga Springs' public safety commissioner. "They don't want them sold in our city, and I agree. Newtown, Conn., is not that far away."

The mayor of Barre, Vt., wants a ban on military-style assault weapons being sold at an annual gun show in February. Mayor Thom Lauzon says he supports responsible gun ownership but is making the request "as a father." The police chief in Waterbury, Conn., just a few miles from Newtown, has halted permits for gun shows, saying he was concerned about firearms changing hands that might one day be used in a mass shooting.

In New York's suburban Westchester County, Executive Rob Astorino had brought back the show in 2010 after a ban of more than a decade following the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, but he said the show would be inappropriate now. The shows in the Hudson Valley and Danbury were listed as canceled on the website for Big Al's Gun Shows. A man who answered the site's contact number said it was the venues that canceled the shows, not the promoter.

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