Guns are a polarizing issue in Saugerties these days, and it turns out, so are gun shows. Since the announcement of a gun show to be held next month at the Kiwanis Ice Arena, the community has responded with criticism and support. The organizer is New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates, headquartered in Mechanicville, near Albany. The show, to be held June 13-15, will include firearms, fishing equipment and Americana. The firm has obtained a Federal Firearms License to allow it to mount a show in Saugerties. It has held gun shows in Saratoga, Newburgh, Herkimer and Peekskill. At the May 7 Town Board meeting, Saugerties residents Angela Gaffney Smith and Peter Kramer spoke about perceived dangers in having gun owners and collectors coming to and from an arena which is across the street from the high school and adjacent to multiple youth activities. Kramer, a hunter and gun owner himself, expressed concern regarding the location of the show and the possible dangers it could present to the many people who use Cantine Field for weekend recreation. In response to concerns from residents, the Kiwanis Club of Saugerties publicly declared its lack of involvement, writing a letter to this newspaper in which it stated the club “has no affiliation with NEACA or part in the scheduling of the event. Please direct any concerns to the town of Saugerties.” When asked if the Town Board had any standing in approving or disapproving a show of this nature in Saugerties, Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton said, “The Kiwanis arena is a public space available to any organization which wants to rent it.” Greg Chorvas, Parks and Building superintendent, confirmed this, adding that he had “checked with the town attorney, knowing that the show might be controversial.” According to Chorvas, the town attorney indicated that “we have no legal right to refuse [any group] because they can sue for discrimination.” Dave Petronis, the proprietor of the show, said that he had “too many of the ads out there to call them back or change them.” His explanation of the use of the Kiwanis name in his advertising was that it directed patrons to the location. Multiple layers of protection for citizens are built into the show scheduled for June both by federal mandate and as part of the policy of NEACA. By federal mandate, an ATF agent is stationed on the site of any gun show. Guns must be empty of ammunition before they can be brought into the building and are locked when they are purchased. Finally, the NEACA must provide a 24-hour guard to secure the gun show site. Police Chief Joe Sinagra said a uniformed Saugerties policeman may also be assigned to the arena. It remains to be seen if further protest will emerge as the date of what is being formally called the Kiwanis Arms Fair and Sportsman’s Expo approaches. Whatever the objections, the show is a definite go, according to Petronis, Chorvas and the Town Board. Poll: Is the Kiwanis Ice Arena an acceptable venue for a gun show?