The following editorial was originally published in The Journal News on June 22, 2010, after Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino overturned a ban on gun shows at the Westchester County Center. We are posting it here today because Astorino, under pressure from Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner and others after Friday’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has canceled a gun and knife show scheduled there in early 2013.
Gun show stirs concern
No doubt a good time was had by all at the weekend gun show at the Westchester County Center, hosting the emporium of guns, knives and collectibles for the first time in 11 years. We just hope that the event does not mark the end of the pragmatic bipartisan support for smarter gun policies that has been the regional norm these last few years.
Some 5,000 people traveled from far and wide to attend the event, which featured a seemingly endless array of firepower. Gun lovers can credit new County Executive Rob Astorino for overturning the ban put into place by his predecessor in the aftermath of the 1999 massacre at Columbine. The prohibition endured over the years as memories of that slaughter were supplanted by fresh tragedies locally and nationally.
Mindful that urban and suburban security are inextricably linked, former Westchester County Executive Andy Spano, joined by the likes of Mayors Phil Amicone of Yonkers and Clinton Young of Mount Vernon, partnered with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to lobby against gun-law loopholes that allow a small number of gun shops and unscrupulous dealers to arm a never-ending string of criminals. After shooting incidents jumped 70 percent in Yonkers and 59 percent in Mount Vernon, Westchester in 2009 agreed to spend $3 million on gunshot-detection technology — a tool to help hasten response by police in those communities.
Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has dozens of chief executives as members, of all political persuasions, has documented how slack gun controls and shady dealers, mostly in Southern states, have absolutely contributed to gun violence in Northern cities. Supposedly, the tightest restrictions were in place during the weekend show in Westchester. Just the same, it seemed like the gun trade was doing plenty enough business without the county executive’s resurrecting the red carpet, adding ambiguity to what these last years has been official and worthwhile resolve.