Westchester County Exec: After Conn. massacre, gun show won't go on

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino speaks during an Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino speaks during an event in White Plains. Photo Credit: Faye Murman

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Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said Monday that he won't allow a gun show to take place in the County Center early next year out of respect for the victims of the Connecticut school shooting.

Traditionally, the Sportsmen Firearm and Knife Show takes place at the county-owned exhibition hall in White Plains on the first weekend of February. The show has not signed a contract to use the center next year, but Astorino said he'll decline to grant one if the organizer requests it.

"The shows in past years were popular and run in a thoroughly professional manner," Astorino, a Republican, said in the statement. "But at this time as the country grieves the loss of life in Newtown, a contract renewal is not appropriate."

Astorino's decision comes after Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, a Democrat, on Sunday called on county officials to cancel the show, saying it was an affront to the memory of the 20 children and seven adults killed on Friday.

"That is really terrific," Feiner said. "It would have been really horrible . . . I just don't think government buildings should be used for gun shows."

The organizer of the event, Westchester Collectors of Mahopac Falls, could not be reached for comment Monday night.

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Astorino's predecessor, Democratic County Executive Andrew Spano, banned gun shows from the center after the 1999 Columbine school massacre. Astorino lifted Spano's ban after he took office in 2010. Now, Feiner said, Astorino's decision to cancel the show was a sign of how the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has changed national perceptions about gun violence.

"It should encourage people who are supportive of gun control measures," Feiner said. "We can really make a difference. This is a small victory, but I think it will generate more momentum for the cause.

Astorino's spokesman, Ned McCormack, said that while show organizer had not signed a contract, it was expected to apply for one like in prior years.

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He agreed with Feiner that the country needed to think long and hard about guns.

"The county is grieving and we are just sort of taking a step back at this point," McCormack said. "There is a need for a serious, broader conversation about all the factors in the shooting and, most acutely, mental illness."

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