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Stamford Gun Show Controversy Has Some Locals Calling For Postponement

Organizer Says Event Will Go On, Despite Close Proximity To Grieving Newtown
(credit: CBS 2)

(credit: CBS 2)

Tragedy In Newtown

STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Three weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School rampage, a gun show will open on Saturday just 30 miles from the tragic scene.

Some people in Stamford said while it may be legal, it’s also insensitive.

The controversy around the gun show actually took a second twist before it even began when The Stamford Advocate awkwardly placed an ad for the show side-by-side with a story about the reopening of Sandy Hook Elementary.

The ill-placed ad caused an uproar after photos of it went viral on Twitter and Facebook.

Paul Farrell, group publisher of The Advocate’s corporate parent Hearst Connecticut Media Group, issued a statement after the blunder:

“Our newspapers should not be running gun ads — including ads for antique and collectible gun shows — next to stories about Sandy Hook. It’s insensitive, and it shouldn’t have happened. It was an oversight, and we apologize for it. We have taken steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Even though the mistake made national headlines, some in Stamford said forget the ad, it’s the show that’s out of place right now.

“Since we are so close to Newtown, it would be respectful to postpone it,” Alyssa Morrin told CBS 2’s Dick Brennan on Friday.

“I think they should postpone it,” Arthur Brown added.

“I think the timing of this thing is horrible,” Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia said.

Pavia said he wanted the show delayed.

“People are still grieving. The aftermath of the tragedy is still…on everybody’s mind,” he said.

CBS 2’s Brennan caught up with the man in charge of the gun show, Newman Chittenden, and put the mayor’s question to him.

“The problem with delaying the show, which I considered just recently, is that there’s a huge amount of money invested in promoting it,” Chittenden said.

Chittenden said his show sells mostly collectibles, and he strictly adheres to the law.

“We are a completely legit organization. We don’t sell guns to criminals. We do background checks on every modern firearm,” Chittenden said.

Police said they’ve worked with Chittenden’s organization before and never had any problems

“They’re complying with all laws and we’ll have personnel there to make sure that they continue to comply with all laws,” Stamford Police Department Capt. Richard Conklin said.

The show will be held at the Stamford Plaza hotel, not a public civic center. So the mayor said he has no power to cancel it.

“Private enterprise is allowed to do what it wants to do as long as it conforms to the law,” Pavia said.

So the show will go on and some said that’s fine.

“I think that it’s okay. I think that it should be sensitive to everyone’s emotions at this time, but I do think that they need to continue to operate business,” Elizabeth Rogers said.

Police said they will be outside the hotel anticipating possible protests and they expect everyone will be peaceful.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has already cancelled a gun show scheduled for February.

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