WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There was new debate Tuesday, over a controversial gun show that may return to Westchester.
Opponents say using a county building to sell weapons is wrong — especially when the last gun show featured Nazi and confederate memorabilia.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the Westchester County Center in White Plains hosts all kinds of events, from reptile shows to tattoo conventions, but after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, gun shows were not welcome — that changed last January.
“To own a gun is perfectly legal, but it’s not something I think the county should be involved in helping to promote,” State Sen. George Latimer (D) said.
Latimer is running for Westchester County Executive, and pointed to Nazi literature, books on Hitler, and confederate flag mementos at the last gun show as reasons why the promoter ‘Northeast Gun Shows’ should not be allowed to hold another event at the county center this January, as they have tentatively listed on their website.
“Nazi memorabilia, confederate flags, it’s a whole counter-culture, anti-society, anti-government kind of mindset that comes with the gun show, and I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he said.
County Executive Rob Astorino vetoed a ban on gun shows earlier this year.
“They’re gong to try to make this into something it was not, it was not Charlottesville, please!” he said.
Astorino’s veto came 7 months before the riot that involved neo-Nazis, confederate supporters, and their opponents in Virginia.
Astorino said 8,000 people attended in January, lines have traditionally been out the door, and the latest gun show earned tax payers $50,000, so he won’t stop it because of some controversial memorabilia.
“These are historical in nature, these are not propaganda to join the Nazis and the KKK, this is about World War II, the same books are in high school libraries,” he said.
CBS2 reached out to show organizers to get their side of the story, but has not heard back. People on the street had plenty to say.
“I do not support gun shows with that type of memorabilia, absolutely not,” Papa Adjei said.
“As long as the county center has background checks, and there is police there that enforce whatever they need to do as far as IDs and so on, I support it,” Joseph Robinson said.
“My tolerance for anything involving Nazi memorabilia and confederate memorabilia is zero,” Kevin Dyal added.
“I think that people have the right to show these things, I think we also need to express our condemnation of Nazism, and what the confederacy stood for,” Glenn Berger said.
It’s a debate that will likely continue until the next gun show.
Westchester County officials said no contract has been signed for the January show, but pointed out that the state of New York holds similar shows on its property in Albany.