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Westchester Legislators Move Step Closer To Banning Gun Shows

A Joint Meeting of Committees on Legislation, Labor/Parks/Planning/Housing, & Public Safety & Social Services on Tuesday, where county lawmakers recommended a ban on gun shows held on county property. The local law will be put to a vote on Jan. 9. Photo Credit: Provided
Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, who is chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, said he learned about next month's firearms show at the County Center from this sign. A committee of the BOL's voted Tuesday to ban gun shows on county land. Photo Credit: Provided
The Westchester County Board of Legislators plans to vote Jan. 9 to ban gun shows in public facilities after one was scheduled for Jan. 21-22 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, the weekend after Inaugural Day. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Democrats on a committee of the Westchester County Board of Legislators recommended passage of a local law Tuesday that would ban gun shows on county property.

At a joint meeting of the Legislation, Labor/Parks/Planning/Housing, and Public Safety & Social Services committees, county legislators voted to recommend that the full Board of Legislators vote on ID# 9417. The act would amend county laws to prohibit gun shows from taking place on county-owned property.

The vote was prompted by plans for a gun show at the Westchester County Center in White Plains on Jan. 21-22, as reported here by Daily Voice.

The proposed local law will go to a vote of the full county Board of Legislators (BOL) on Monday, Jan. 9. However, their vote is unlikely to stop this month's show, according to a county official. That's because County Executive Rob Astorino, who supports the gun show, has 10 days to veto any newly-passed law. A veto would happen on Jan. 19 at the latest, giving legislators little time to override a veto -- and no real chance of stopping this month's show legislatively.

The ban was first proposed by Legislator Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, in 2010 and has since been sponsored by every member of the Democratic caucus but never voted on by the full BOL.

“I, as do my Democratic colleagues on the Board, feel that the people’s best interests are not being served when we use our County facilities to host the sale of weapons used to kill,” Jenkins said. “This Act does not stop any of the sponsors of this show, which include the locally affiliated NRA chapter, to host this event down the street on private property. My proposal simply says that County parklands and facilities will not be used to host events that sell guns. It is not a business the County should be getting into and I am glad we took this first big step to making this the law of Westchester,” Jenkins said.

“Law enforcement officials around the country have stated that gun shows are the ‘critical moment’ of custody when guns are transferred from the legal to illegal market,” said Legislator Ben Boykin, D-White Plains, chairman of the Committee on Public Safety & Social Services. “According to the ATF, 30 percent of guns involved in federal illegal gun trafficking investigations are connected in some way to gun shows. This could be through the use of a ‘straw man’ purchaser or a grey-market transaction set up as a result of contact made at a gun show."

"Bottom line, we as a County do not want to open ourselves up to more exposure to these dangerous weapons than we already are," Boykin said.

Last month, Astorino defended resumption of the gun show in White Plains, saying: “The Northeast Gun show has historically been one of the best run and most well-attended shows we host at the County Center. We expect the show in January to be no different and we encourage not just sportsmen and firearm enthusiasts in Westchester and throughout the Hudson Valley to attend, but also the general public."

BOL Chairman Michael Kaplowitz promised a vote will take place Jan. 9, as reported here by Daily Voice, saying, "I support the Second Amendment, but it doesn't have to be at the County Center."

Kaplowitz accused Astorino of quietly lifting his ban on gun shows to allow the Jan. 21-22 firearms show at the County Center "in a play for Upstate support" -- assuming Astorino attempts a second run for governor.

NorthEast Gun Shows and Westchester Collectors announced a two-day firearm and knife show/sale at the County Center on the weekend after Inauguration Day. More details can be found by clicking here.

Astorino explained that this month's gun show "will see not only thousands of law-abiding citizens exercising their first and second amendment rights in a safe, legal and orderly way, but will also catch a glimpse of our nation’s history as there will be collector firearms from every war going back to our War for Independence."

After a gunman murdered 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in November 2012, Astorino canceled a show scheduled for February 2013 at County Center. There hasn't been one since.

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