GLENS FALLS — Buyers and sellers had only one complaint about the first gun show held in the city in decades.
The room was too crowded.
“It’s OK, because next time we are going to have it on the ice rink, and there will be more tables and more room,” said Martin Tretola, a Long Island-based promoter who said he had 120 tables for the show in Heritage Hall for his first Glens Falls Gun Show, but had to turn dozens of dealers away. “We had plenty of dealers and plenty of people, and in March, we’ll be able to have 200 tables and probably take care of everybody.”
Tretola has booked the arena for two shows next year, one March 3 and 4 and another Oct. 13 and 14.
He said Saturday’s show drew 822 people, and Sunday drew more than 400. “We had a nice crowd,” Tretola said. “Everybody was glad we were able to come up here. They thanked us when they left.”
Jane Havens of Calamity Jane’s Firearms and Fine Shoes in Hudson Falls said Saturday was “really busy” and Sunday’s turnout was “respectable.”
Havens, whose store has been open since August 2016, said she saw a lot of familiar faces at the show.
“I saw a lot of our regular customers, but there were also some people from Vermont and western New York,” she said.
Havens was the only local gun dealer at the show, but Paul Brockway, who prints t-shirts in Glens Falls, had a table as well.
“Saturday was really busy. You couldn’t move in here,” he said.
Dealers came from across the state, and many seemed to spend as much time on the computer doing background checks as they did selling guns.
Havens said that in order to buy a handgun, customers already have to have a pistol permit from their local county. “We don’t have permitting for rifles or shotguns, but people still have to pass a federal background check before they can buy them,” she said.
“There is no ‘gun-show loophole,’” said Steve Heath of Steve’s Guns of Stephentown. “People have to pass the background check or have a permit.”
Some dealers and customers declined to talk to a reporter, but most were friendly and willing to talk about shows and shooting.
“The people you meet at a gun show — customers and dealers — are some of the best people you will ever meet,” Heath said.
Bob McQuade of Comac Guns in Glenmont had a relatively quick trip to this weekend’s show, but will be on a road trip to Chantilly, Virginia, for a big show there later this week.
Like most dealers, he had plenty of modern firearms, but he also had a large selection of classic, handmade guns, including a double-barrel rifle with a $14,500 pricetag on it.
“You look at some of the handiwork that goes into some of these guns and it is just amazing,” he said.
There were plenty of other items beyond guns and ammunition. Some dealers had knives. Others had challenge coins, backpacks, targets, pink hats and posters.
The politically motivated posters leaned hard to the right, including a “Lock Her Up” poster of Hillary Clinton.
Recent mass shootings were not a common topic of conversation, but Karen Tremblay of East Greenbush, a gun dealer with her partner, Ronald Hertzel, had some strong opinions.
“When you look at the church shooting last week, that man never should have been able to buy guns, if the Air Force had done what it was supposed to and report him,” she said. “As gun dealers, we like the laws, except for the SAFE Act. That’s just too much. But we like having to make sure people should be able to get the guns they are buying.”
Havens, who is helping to organize a trap-shooting league for local high schools, said she has had positive experiences with law enforcement.
“I work with local and national law enforcement, and they are doing their job,” she said. “I have excellent relations with them. And as a dealer, we have the right to not sell a gun to someone if we think they are suspicious.”