I counted 11 people who got up to the mic to ask the council to cancel the gun show at the City Center Jan. 11 through 13, though I could have missed one or two.
Skidmore Political Science Professor Robert Turner, who is also married to Susan Steer, organizer of the petition to cancel the gun show, questioned holding a gun show where AR-15 rifles and AK-47s in a publicly-owned building.
"I don't see why publicly-funded facilities should be promoting this," he said.
Phil Diamond, who often speaks about a wide range of issues at the City Council meetings (no meeting is complete without him), called for a protest in front of the City Center during the gun show.
"Let's use our First Amendment rights to battle their Second Amendment rights," he said. "Let's be as noisy as we can be at the show."
Other notable speakers were: Bill McTygue, former Democratic commissioner of public works and Charlie Samuels, the self-proclaimed 50-year-old skateboarder. Other speakers were listed in today's story on the meeting.
Most people who spoke said they did not believe Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen's resolution went far enough.
Before Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan made her amendment to strengthen the resolution (though it is still non-binding and essentially symbolic), Public Works Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco said he could find "a couple thousand dollars in my budget" to start a gun buy-back program in the city.
That did not go anywhere, since he was trying to add it to the resolution they were already working on, but it seemed like it would need its own.
The only person to speak in defense of the gun show was John Tighe, who writes the Saratoga In Decline blog (Warning, the content is crude, vulgar and is considered offensive to
"I would protest against Craigslist," he said. "I would protest against the want ads. That's where most of these sales are happening."
He was in the minority at the meeting, though.
Carol Maxwell said she is a former gun owner and member of the NRA, but "I no longer have guns in my life."
Anyway, I wanted to offer a little clarity to the debate, because as City Center Authority President Mark Baker pointed out to me after the meeting, "there were a lot of errors in what they were saying."
I'm no gun expert, but I've shot before, I've attended the Saratoga Arms Fair and I know enough to realize that there IS indeed a lot of misinformation out there about what is legal, what isn't and what we're talking about here.
First off, there were a few references to "rapid fire" weapons or "automatic" weapons. Those are machine guns and are not legal without very regimented and specific licensing and they are not sold at gun shows.
Semi-automatic means that if you depress the trigger, only one bullet is shot. If you want to shoot another bullet, you need to pull the trigger again.
"Assault weapons" are illegal in New York State. They were illegal nationally until the ban on them expired nearly a decade ago, but not all AR-15s or AK-47s are legally considered assault weapons.
In order to be considered an assault weapon, those guns would need to also have at least two of the following add-ons: a folding or telescopic stock, a pistol grip (meaning a handle like a pistol, where you grip the gun), a bayonet mount (not that THAT seems to be much of an issue these days), a flash suppressor (which goes on the end of the barrel to reduce the flash exiting the barrel with a bullet) or a grenade launcher.
High-capacity magazines were also banned in the federal law in 1994, but magazines manufactured before the ban have always remained legal.
Here is the penal law section defining "Assault Weapons."
Penal law section 265.00
22. "Assault weapon"
(This section is for a rifle that is legally considered an "Assault weapon")
(a) a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following characteristics: (i) a folding or telescoping stock; (ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; (iii) a bayonet mount; (iv) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; (v) a grenade launcher;
For the record, that means an AR-15 with none or only one of those additions is not an assault weapon.
Here it is for shotguns, which can be "assault weapons":
(b) a semiautomatic shotgun that has at least two of the following characteristics: (i) a folding or telescoping stock; (ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; (iii) a fixed magazine capacity in excess of five rounds; (iv) an ability to accept a detachable magazine; or
(c) a semiautomatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following characteristics: (i) an ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip; (ii) a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer; (iii) a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the nontrigger hand without being burned; (iv) a manufactured weight of fifty ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded; (v) a semiautomatic version of an automatic rifle, shotgun or firearm; orFinally, specific models that are considered "assault weapons":
(d) any of the weapons, or functioning frames or receivers of such weapons, or copies or duplicates of such weapons, in any caliber, known as: (i) Norinco, Mitchell, and Poly Technologies Avtomat Kalashnikovs (all models); (ii) Action Arms Israeli Military Industries UZI and Galil; (iii) Beretta Ar70 (SC-70); (iv) Colt AR-15; (v) Fabrique National FN/FAL, FN/LAR, and FNC; (vi) SWD M-10, M-11, M-11/9, and M-12; (vii) Steyr AUG; (viii) INTRATEC TEC-9, TEC-DC9 and TEC-22; and (ix) revolving cylinder shotguns, such as (or similar to) the Street Sweeper and Striker 12;
Here are some exceptions:
(e) provided, however, that such term does not include: (i) any rifle, shotgun or pistol that (A) is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever or slide action; (B) has been rendered permanently inoperable; or (C) is an antique firearm as defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(16); (ii) a semiautomatic rifle that cannot accept a detachable magazine that holds more than five rounds of ammunition; (iii) a semiautomatic shotgun that cannot hold more than five rounds of ammunition in a fixed or detachable magazine; (iv) a rifle, shotgun or pistol, or a replica or a duplicate thereof, specified in Appendix A to section 922 of 18 U.S.C. as such weapon was manufactured on October first, nineteen hundred ninety-three. The mere fact that a weapon is not listed in Appendix A shall not be construed to mean that such weapon is an assault weapon; or (v) a semiautomatic rifle, a semiautomatic shotgun or a semiautomatic pistol or any of the weapons defined in paragraph (d) of this subdivision lawfully possessed prior to September fourteenth, nineteen hundred ninety-four.
And on another note, here's the blotter for last night.
Jan. 3 blotter
Not much to see here. No arrests made. A few incidents of harassment. One report of subject in store "making strange comments," but that's about it.