In light of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada that killed 59 and injured scores more, a group of lawmakers and gun control advocates led by Democratic New York State Senator George Latimer (D – Mamaroneck) Tuesday rallied in front of the Westchester County Center in White Plains to call on County Executive Rob Astorino to pass legislation preventing gun shows from being held on county property.
(Editor’s Note: County Executive Robert Astorino’s campaign team issued a statement accusing Mr. Latimer of ”playing politics” in the aftermath of the Las Vegas killings.
In a related campaign development, Mayor Michael Spano of Yonkers endorsed Mr. Latimer for County Executive.)
The Latimer move coincides with recent reports that a controversial gun show held last year at the Center will again come to the public facility in January 2018, provoking renewed condemnation of Astorino for supporting the event and for substantial campaign contributions the Republican has received from gun groups.
“Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the first responders, but we’ve said that in Orlando, we’ve said that in San Bernadino, and we’ve said that going all the way back to the 1960s when Charles Whitman took lives at the University of Texas. Time and again, we’re expressing prayers and common sympathy and that’s not enough anymore. I believe that the Second Amendment allows you to own a weapon, but it certainly does not mean that every possible armament under the sun should be in private hands,” said George Latimer at the event.
Latimer’s strong rebuke of Astorino came during a press conference and rally outside the Westchester County Center, a 5,000-seat multipurpose arena located in downtown White Plains, N.Y. Latimer was joined by County Legislator Catherine Parker, County Legislature candidate Nancy Barr, New Castle Town Supervisor candidate Kirsten Browde, and County Legislature candidate Ruth Walter. Moms Demand Action head Nicole Lesser also attended the afternoon press conference.
The Westchester County Center was recently the site a controversial January 2017 gun show attended by some 8,000 and featuring an array of guns, knives and paraphernalia for sale, including “military style weapons.” Most notably, some vendors at the show also sold a range of Nazi and Confederate imagery and memorabilia. Last month, Latimer strongly criticized the sale after a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly, sparking international outrage.
Prior to last year’s gun show, the County had effectively banned the shows in response to successive school shootings like Columbine and 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, which took place just 50 miles from White Plains. The Westchester County Legislature subsequently introduced legislation codifying the ban, which Astorino vetoed earlier this year.
Most recently, it was reported that the gun show may again return to the county center in January 2018. In light of this recent massacre in Las Vegas, the deadliest in modern U.S. history, Latimer and supporters renewed calls on Astorino to support the ban. Latimer also criticized Astorino’s well-established pro-gun stances, calling the County Executive out of step with the values of most Westchester residents. Astorino has received $5,000 from the National Rifle Association and has pledged to repeal the SAFE act, a law passed in the wake of Sandy Hook meant to regulate the use and availability of semi-automatic weapons.
“Putting an end to this carnage is a matter of leadership and in this way Rob Astorino failed us,” said Latimer. “We need leadership to stand up to the gun lobby and prevent military-grade weapons from being sold on county property. As our next County Executive, I will pass the gun show bill and make every Westchester resident’s safety my top priority.”