Tax-paying, law-abiding gun owners in New York got a rude awakening at the start of 2018 after the top Westchester County official has ordered that future gun shows have to be held in private venues, thus canceling a show that had been scheduled for later this month at the Westchester County Center.
OK, everyone knows where Westchester County Executive George Latimer, a Democrat, stands on the issue of guns. After all, he made banning gun shows on county property the lynchpin of his campaign. But with just two days under his belt as the county’s top government official, he signed an executive order to cancel the show in the lobby of the County Center in White Plains, N.Y. Like Westchester County has nothing more important to be concerned about— like high tax rates, crime in Yonkers, transportation improvements … you know, things that actually affect the people.
John Testa, a Republican county legislator, criticized the order, calling it discriminatory, and Michael Timlin, the owner of RT Smoke and Gun Shop in Mount Vernon, N.Y., summed up the lack of reasoning behind the decision. “Honestly, I think what politicians are doing right now is they’re taking an incident of somebody doing something [bad] and they’re applying it to something like a gun show … where people do not come for those types of reasons.”
The Westchester County Center gun show has been a political hot potato since 1999, with attitudes changing as frequently as the county executive has. First, there was a yearly gun show, then it was canceled after the shooting at Columbine high. A few years later, calmer heads prevailed and the annual gun show returned. But after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in late 2012, the county nixed plans for future shows. That marked the first of a four-year hiatus before the show returned in 2017 and drew a record number of attendees. “There was just no justification to ban a gun show based on the facts and based on the law,” then-County Executive Rob Astorino said after the show returned.
Latimer’s action is just the latest knee-jerk reaction by a politician who has little concept of the lack of a correlation between gun shows and violent crime. If you want to curtail crime, Latimer should focus on the underlying social, educational and economic factors that drive criminal behavior and implement measures to combat them, not target his energies on law-abiding members of the community.