Posted by Alex Hodor-Lee
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman traveled to Saratoga Springs on Sunday to attend the Saratoga Arms Fair.
It was Ms. Giffords' first visit to a gun show since she was shot during a January 2011 campaign event and, having since become the face of gun safety in America, she paired with Schneiderman to highlight New York State's progressive gun safety standards.
Giffords-accompanied by her husband Mark Kelly-perused the exhibition hall-stopping to talk to vendors and occasionally surveying the antique knives, handguns and rifles on display. The couple noted that they themselves were gun owners before calling for unity in the battle to end gun deaths in America.
"Stopping gun violence takes courage, the courage to do what's right-the courage of new ideas," Giffords said in a press conference following the gun show. Her stutter was a powerful reminder of the Tuscon shooting. "Now is the time to come together, be responsible. Democrats, Republicans, everyone."
The former Arizona representative's presence was met with applause and a few boos and jeers from vendors, many of whom wore buttons expressing fierce aversion to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, as well as their opposition to the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE Act).
The Saratoga Arms Fair is one of the largest gun shows in New York State and Saratoga Springs's fourth exhibition since the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., which left twenty elementary school students dead and the nation shocked. New York State lawmakers responded to Newtown by passing some of the nation's most progressive gun safety policies, including one of Gov. Cuomo's signature laws, the SAFE Act-which has vexed many gun owners in the State.
Sunday's gun show, however, was not about the SAFE Act, according to Schneiderman, who admonished Washington lawmakers for their inability to pass any major gun legislation. The Attorney General also reflected on New York State's vanguardism on the issue, which he noteed could not have been possible without collaboration from gun enthusiasts.
"The most important thing is that we work out a system cooperatively," Schneiderman said. "You don't solve this problem by sitting in your respective camps shooting shells at each other. You solve the problem by going out and talking."
In January 2011, the Attorney General's office revealed new model gun show procedures to curb illegal sales of firearms through the "gun show loophole." The new standard mandates instant background checks on gun buyers. The mutually agreed upon procedure also requires tags for every gun brought into a gun show so that upon exit, buyers can prove they underwent a background check before purchasing.
"This is an example where government can work together with gun owners and federally licensed firearms dealers to have a solution that's commonsense that most people agree on," the Attorney General said.
With the prolonged government shutdown signaling Washington policy stagnation, the shaping of transformative gun laws is now left to the states. For Schneiderman, New York State is a shining example of lawmakers' ability to work through partisan gridlock and pass reformist policies.
"I think it's an example of what can happen when everyone calms down the politics and we're able to implement policies we all agree on."