Under law, gun show carries on
Year-old SAFE Act draws grumbles of enthusiasts
SARATOGA SPRINGS The provisions of the controversial SAFE Act haven’t really affected ammunition and antique weapons dealer Richard Pelzer yet.
But they will soon, once the state police get their ammunition background check process in place.
The registration deadline for dealers to participate is Jan. 15, but required background checks will be in limbo until the state database is complete.
Pelzer, though, doesn’t see the need.
“Think of it: You pick up this piece of ammo, you put it in your hand and you hit it — it won’t go off,” said Pelzer, whose business, Poor Richard’s, is based in the town of Providence. He was at Friday evening’s preview of this weekend’s NEACA Arms Fair in Saratoga Springs.
“It’s just silly,” he said. “It’s not going to solve anything.”
Pelzer is one of about 60 dealers set up for the gun show at the Saratoga Springs City Center, selling everything from ammunition and guns to knives and artwork.
The show happens to fall the weekend before the ammunition provision of the SAFE Act goes into effect. The aim of the provision, supporters say, is to keep ammunition out of the hands of those prohibited under federal and state law from possessing it, including criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.
The show also is on the weekend before the one-year anniversary of the passage of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE Act). That legislation was passed in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.
An independent protest of the act is scheduled for today around the state, with protesters firing off shots at noon to show their opposition to the act. SAFE Act opponents are encouraging others to find a safe and legal place out in the woods or on their property to join in.
The gun show is expected to go on as it has for the past 30 years, said Cathy Petronis, an organizer of the event with the Mechanicville-based New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates.
The event is to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8.
The biggest change in the show since the SAFE Act has been the elimination of AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, Petronis said. Those used to be sold but now can’t be under the act, she said.
Another difference between this January’s show and last January’s show is the expected lack of protesters. The show saw pickets last January, but Petronis said they had the opposite effect — they actually brought more people to the show.
She said she expects a smaller crowd this year, between 1,500 and 2,000 people over the weekend.
Dealer Arthur Green of Gloversville will be at the show. He mostly deals in collectible, antique and custom knives. But he also works with some guns.
He also has his thoughts on the SAFE Act.
“It’s feel-good legislation, but it doesn’t address the problem,” Green said.
The problem, he said, isn’t the guns, it’s mental health and criminals. He sees the act as picking on law-abiding citizens who don’t hurt anybody.
Dealer Randy of the Plattsburgh area, who declined to give his last name, sees the ammunition provisions as cutting down on sales. Randy has a table of ammunition at the show as well as military surplus, but he doesn’t deal in guns. He thinks background checks will prolong purchases and customers simply will not want to wait.
“It’s just going to be another big headache, and I believe that’s what they want it to do,” he said, “make it harder for everybody so they don’t bother with it.”
But has registered with the state police to continue selling ammunition. Pelzer has done the same.
“I think what people will do is rather than buying a box here, a box there and a box there, they’ll go to one table, get the check and buy bulk ammo,” Pelzer said. “It’s just silly.”