7:15 PM EST, January 8, 2013
In the wake of last month's shootings at Newtown, the residents of west-central Connecticut have many needs: compassion, respect, privacy, understanding, cooperation and answers.
What they don't need is a gun show.
Thus it was a relief to see the police chief of Waterbury, about 15 miles from Newtown, pull the plug on gun shows there, including one scheduled for this coming weekend.
In revoking permits for such events, Chief Michael Gugliotti said, with justification, that he was concerned that firearms bought at shows in his city might later be used for the type of mass shooting that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. There, 20 children and six educators were killed Dec. 14.
The promoter of the canceled event argued, as might be expected, that security would not be helped by stopping his firearms show. He said that vendors would have "turned away people who have mental health problems." How they can determine that was not explained.
Connecticut does require criminal background checks on all handgun sales, regardless of where they're sold, and on sales of long guns by licensed dealers. (Private sales are another story.) And police can revoke gun permits of anyone involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. But diagnosing mental illness requires expertise that a gun vendor is unlikely to have.
Waterbury is not alone in curtailing such exhibitions, given the grim circumstances. Scheduled events in White Plains, N.Y., and Danbury have been canceled, either by local officials or the operators of the show venues. The public safety commissioner of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., allowed an upcoming show, but persuaded promoters not to display the type of military-style, large-clip weapons used in Newtown. The mayor of Barre, Vt., has made a similar request.
As the renewed debate about gun control moves forward in Hartford, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, proponents and opponents of gun shows will be given the opportunity to have their say on how, or whether, such shows should be held.
In the meantime, Chief Gugliotti showed both common sense and uncommon sensibility in revoking such permits in Waterbury.
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