On the day of the Newtown shootings, the police in Waterbury, Connecticut — just 20 miles away — were scheduled to meet with the organizers of a firearm and knife show big enough to fill the local convention center. But the Waterbury police chief was having none of it: "Out of respect and honor for those 26 folks that lost their life in Newtown, I made the decision then and there to send the promoter a message that I would not be signing any permit for any gun show until further notice," Chief Michael Gugliotti told Talking Points Memo on Friday.
Which raises the question: If even the cops can realize gun shows near Newtown are a bad idea right now, why are people still holding them there? Or anywhere, for that matter? A number of firearm sales meetings have been cancelled out of respect to the victims, the Connecticut Post reports, but a collectors show in nearby Stamford, where Adam Lanza's father lives, is still scheduled for this weekend. And of course there was that ad for another gun show in the Stamford Advocate ... next to a story about the first day of school back at Sandy Hook.
But beyond the symbolism is a specific fight over actual firearm sales at these gun shows. Gun-control advocates have argued that it's too easy to buy a gun at a show, with fewer background checks; gun-rights advocates, of course, don't feel the same way, saying that regulation on gun shows is an infringement on their rights. That's why it's understandable that the reaction to Chief Gugliotti's decision has been split: "There are people that don't understand why I made the decision that I made, and there are people that support i,." he said. In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett said in an interview on Friday that he's considering banning gun shows on publicly-owned property.