HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett said Friday he would consider a radio-show caller’s suggestion that gun shows be banned on publicly owned property.
The caller on WITF’s “Smart Talk” radio show asked Corbett why gun shows are allowed at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg and, in light of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., whether he’d support a ban.
Corbett responded no one had ever suggested the idea to him before.
“It’s a good thing to raise and I will give a thought to it,” he said.
But he added the Farm Show Complex is open to all businesses. He also noted prospective buyers at gun shows must be cleared through the Pennsylvania State Police instant background check system – just as they are when buying weapons from gun shops.
Corbett, responding to another question about whether additional gun laws are needed, said: “We have sensible (gun laws), but we have to enforce them. We have so many gun laws right now, it’s amazing.”
The fallout from last month’s slaughter of 20 children and six school officials at Sandy Hook Elementary School has touched gun shows in other Northeastern states. The police chief in Waterbury, Conn., halted permits for gun shows a day after the shooting, saying he was concerned a gun purchased at a show could be used in a future mass shooting. In Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the organizers of an upcoming show have agreed to the city’s request to halt the display of military-style semiautomatic weapons.
There’s little indication so far that the shooting has impacted gun shows in Pennsylvania.
The state-owned Farm Show Complex hosts several gun shows each year that attract thousands of visitors. Charlotte Jubinski of Mid Atlantic Arms Collectors, which has run shows at the complex for several decades, said no one from the state has contacted her about upcoming shows.
She said the shows follow all applicable gun laws.
“We’re pretty strict,” said Jubinski, whose husband promotes the shows and also owns a gun shop attached to their home in Union Dale, Susquehanna County. “In order for you to come in and buy a gun, you’d have to go through the same (background check) you would at our gun shop.”
In addition, she said, dealers must keep guns under glass. And patrons are not permitted to bring loaded weapons into the shows, and are required to check them at the gate.
“We’ll put a plastic tie strap through it so it can’t be loaded and fired into the building,” she said.
Joel Koehler, a gun dealer who operates shows throughout central and eastern Pennsylvania, said Friday he’s felt no pressure to cancel.
“The shows are going on. Nobody’s said to us that we can’t have them,” he said.
Like other gun dealers, Koehler said gun sales went up dramatically after the shooting. He said a few dealers have had to drop out of this weekend’s show in the Pocono Mountains “because they have nothing to sell. They are out of inventory.”