Back in July, the Board of Selectmen approved the American Legion’s request to hold a 2-day gun show at the High Plains Community Center in November.
The Legion Post 127 has partnered with the Stratford Gun Collectors Association for the past couple of years, hosting the show at the Legion Hall on Grassy Hill Road as a fundraising event.
The Orange Police Department recommended the Community Center for the show because the the event had outgrown the Legion’s parking accommodations.
When residents learned of the show a few stood up to protest, stating that the Community Center was not the right place for such an event; that it was disrespectful to the people of Sandy Hook who lost children and staff in a horrific school shooting in December 2012; among other things.
The August Board of Selectmen’s meeting brought to light the answers to many of their questions and some facts that even surprised the selectmen. They had only received half the story when the application first came before them.
Board members were under the impression that antique guns would be shown and sold, but at the August meeting it was revealed that ANY gun that is legally sold in CT would be available. — Not What The Board Thought When They Approved It
Board members believed that no ammunition would be sold at the show, during the meeting they were told that ammo most likely would be kept in a separate room. — Not What The Board Thought When They Approved It
Anyone who is purchasing items at the show must be trained and licensed and must produce all the proper documentation and ID. — This just opened a whole big can of worms.
First Selectman Jim Zeoli said he was unhappy that the club from Stratford was getting 75% of the profits and the Legion would only get 25% — Not much of a fundraiser for the Legion.
What Happens Now?
The discussion on this matter was supposed to be continued to the Sept. 9 Selectmen’s meeting, but on Monday, the Stratford Gun Collector’s Association pulled out.
American Legion Post 127 Commander Lewis Merritt released a statement on Aug. 24 (just 8 days after the Selectmen’s meeting): “The president of the Stratford Gun Collectors Assn. has informed the Post that he has withdrawn the application to use the Orange Community Center this November at the request of his members. No further information was given.“
Although this is good news for the residents who spoke against the gun show at the meeting, it’s bad news for the Post.
The Legion was depending upon a golf tournament fundraiser on Aug. 17 to raise some money for its programs and building repairs, but that had to be canceled.
The Post only has one other fundraiser planned for 2015, that’s the Breakfast for Dinner at Chip’s Family Restaurant 321 Boston Post Road, Orange on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 12.
According to Merritt, “The server keeps the tip, and the restaurant donates $10 of the meal to the Orange Legion Post.”
Merritt concluded his statement with an invitation to join the Legion:
“Post 127 invites all current and former service men and women in our area to stop by our Post, 630 Grassy Hill Road, Orange, CT any Wednesday night at 6 p.m. There is always something going on. You don’t have to be a member. Meet your comrades, share a hot dog and a story. We are here for you.”