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Guns are a weight on our national soul

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David Petronis, owner of a gun shop in Mechanicville and promoter of the annual gun show in Saratoga Springs, is bringing his show to Lake George again.

A flier he sent out decries protests that have taken place outside his show in Saratoga, mentions that Hitler confiscated guns from citizens and shows a dump truck full of guns in Australia, photographed during the country’s buyback program, which followed a horrific gun-facilitated massacre in 1996.

In conversation, Mr. Petronis is less provocative than I expected. He admitted guns are not a cure-all and they aren’t for everyone.

“I rarely carry a firearm, because it’s too heavy on me,” he said.

It’s not just the few pounds a gun weighs that makes it heavy. It’s the weight of worry that lugging around a deadly weapon creates.

Nonetheless, Mr. Petronis says he favors more people carrying weapons in more places than they do now.

“I’m 100 percent in favor of people carrying,” he said.

In the next breath, however, he said some people shouldn’t be “carrying.”

“If they’re not that sensible, they shouldn’t be walking around with a loaded gun,” he said. “I have refused to sell guns to people. There are people out there … .“ He laughed.

There are people out there like Christopher Harper-Mercer (nine dead, nine wounded), Adam Lanza (27 dead, two wounded), James Eagan Holmes (12 dead, 58 wounded), Dylann Roof (nine dead, one wounded), Seung-Hui Cho (32 dead, 17 wounded) and dozens more. All of them were able to get guns, easily, in our gun-saturated society.

People who pride themselves on common sense stretch themselves into pretzels trying to explain how having rifles easier to obtain than beer, and pistol permits easier to get than driver’s licenses, makes our country safer from alienated, angry young men who want to indulge in killing sprees.

They must stretch to the breaking point to explain how a lack of gun control protects the hundreds of children who kill themselves or family members by mistake, or sometimes on purpose, each year in this country.

But any advocacy of gun control only helps Mr. Petronis, because it convinces some people they must stock up now or lose the opportunity to overarm themselves.

He admitted that.

“It keeps the production lines running,” he said.

It — meaning the fear that drives the backlash whenever an effort is mounted to regulate guns — keeps the blood flowing, too.

I asked Mr. Petronis if he allows people with concealed carry pistol permits to carry their guns into his shows. He said no. “They have to refrain from bringing in loaded firearms, even if they have a permit,” he said.

Why is that? I asked.

“It’s a safety rule,” he said.

Will Doolittle is projects editor at

The Post-Star

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