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Farm-show gun ban comment reversed

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Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, 12:06 a.m.
 

Gov. Tom Corbett reversed course late Friday after a previous remark to a radio-show caller that he would consider banning gun shows from state-owned property drew national attention.

Earlier in the day, the caller to WITF's “Radio Smart Talk” asked Corbett why Pennsylvania “is in the business of” allowing gun shows at the state Farm Show Complex, a 24-acre facility in Harrisburg with several large exhibition spaces.

“The state is open to all businesses using the Farm Show, but I've never given that one any thought,” Corbett said of banning gun shows from the complex. “It's a good thing to raise, and I will give a thought to it.”

His comments were widely reported by media outlets throughout the nation, further fueling an ongoing debate between gun rights activists and those seeking to limit access to guns.

But by Friday evening, spokeswoman Janet Kelley issued a statement saying “there would be no reason to ban (gun shows) on public property, such as the Farm Show building, as they are legitimate business owners conducting business. Our policy on these matters remains unchanged.”

Corbett's initial comments riled gun-rights activists facing battles in states across the country in the wake of last month's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

“Gun shows are nothing more than a bunch of legitimate businesses getting together and selling a legal product,” said Kim Stolfer, chairman of Firearms Owners Against Crime and legislative director for Allegheny County Sportsmen's League. “Every dealer who sells a gun has to go through all the hoops a regular citizen has to go through at a gun store.”

An online calendar for the Farm Show Complex showed five gun-sales events were held in 2012 — four Mid-Atlantic Arms Collectors gun shows and the annual Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.

Corbett's comments gave some hope, however brief, to anti-gun advocates.

Shira Goodman, executive director for CeaseFirePA, a statewide gun violence prevention group, said it would send “a strong message to say ‘No, we're not having gun shows in publicly owned buildings.'”

Staff writer Mike Wereschagin contributed to this report. Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com.

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