The gun show at the Clinton Arena in June will go on as planned after the Kirkland Town Board voted in favor of keeping it.
The vote came after the board heard several speakers at last week’s regular meeting lauding its praises, and a sole dissenter asking for reconsideration.
A petition has been passed around locally and on the Internet by a group known as “No Gun Shows Near Our Clinton Playground.” They sought signatures not to totally shut down the event, but to have it moved.
Supervisor Bob Meelan said he looked at the online petition and at least half of the signatures aren’t from Kirkland residents, with some not even from New York state.
He also noted the petition says the Kirkland Avenue arena is across the street from the playground, when it isn’t. The New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates-organized gun show is scheduled for June 8-10, a weekend when school will not be in session, Meelan noted.
Meelan said while he and the board are aware of the concerns of the citizens, they also are sensitive to residents who are hunters, or members of the local fish and game club.
“We should not react out of fear,” Meelan told the audience at the March 12 meeting, adding he expected there was nobody in the room who would disagree that gun violence is a tragedy. Meelan said what had started as a solemn memorial in a recent candlelight vigil for victims of gun violence has now become an issue in need of the town government’s action.
“The vigil in the park was beautiful, but now it’s rolled into this,” he said while looking out over the crowded meeting room.
Mike Orsino, head of the Kirkland Parks and Recreation Department, said he has attended the gun show for all of its 30-plus years. There is a rigorous security process there.
For the full story, check newsstands for this week's edition of The Waterville Times. You can also request a previous issue of The Waterville Times.