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Protesters at Saratoga Arms Fair

Protesters at Saratoga Arms Fair

— They came early, and they came in larger numbers than many anticipated.

Well before the 9 a.m. starting time of the controversial Saratoga Arms Fair at the Saratoga Springs City Center, long lines stretched down the block. Many of those eager to see the latest guns offered for sale said they showed up just because of the publicity surrounding the show.

Then there were the protesters. Lined up side-by-side in front of the City Center were dozens of protesters both for and against gun control. Separated by police-manned barricades, both sides waved flags, displayed signs, hollered and cheered as an unending stream of cars drove by, honking in support for both sides. The noise at times was deafening, and the crowd seemed undeterred by the damp, dreary weather.

“We heard enough of what we need to do,” shouted Joe Seeman, of Moveon.org. “Don’t wait any more for action. The power of the people is more powerful than organized money.”

Betty Head, who is council organizer for MoveOn.org, also spoke out.

“How do we stop this bleeding, this unspeakable carnage?,” she said. “Speak out! Take back power from organizations like (the National Rifle Association) that choose to make your children’s lives expendable.”

“Go inside and buy a rifle,” a counter protestor yelled out.

The exchanges between the two groups were at times heated. In the early afternoon, several people from Saratoga Peace Alliance, Saratogians for Gun Safety and Moveon.org started making speeches via a megaphone. In response, those involved in a counter protest stood on a wall behind the barricades, shouting back at the speakers. Saratoga police doubled their presence along the barricade line.

There were also larger groups represented on the pro-gun side. Rob Arrigo of Campaign for Liberty wanted to make sure his group’s viewpoints were known, too.

“We are trying to bring attention to the fact that the vast majority of gun owners are law abiding and peaceful,” he said. “In this country you don’t punish the majority because of the very few who were reckless.”

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