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Bel Air Reckord Armory to host 55th annual gun show

Patrons check out a vendor's selection of firearms during last year's Bel Air Gun Show at the Bel Air Reckord Armory. The gun show returns this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Patrons check out a vendor's selection of firearms during last year's Bel Air Gun Show at the Bel Air Reckord Armory. The gun show returns this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.(Brian Krista | Aegis file photo, Patuxent Publishing)

The 55th annual Bel Air Gun Show, an event that brings hundreds of people from throughout Maryland and Pennsylvania and other states to the Bel Air Reckord Armory, begins Friday and runs through Sunday.

The three-day show is sponsored by the Harford County chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, which promotes conservation and outdoor recreation. The armory is at 37 N. Main St. in downtown Bel Air.

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The local Izaak Walton League chapter maintains about 300 acres of wetlands along the Bush River.

Jim Lagan, a longtime Izaak Walton member and co-chairman of this year's show, said more than 2,000 people attended the 2014 exhibition.

"We have very good attendance at these shows," he said.

Attendees can visit vendors selling an array of firearms, including handguns, shotguns, hunting rifles and semiautomatic rifles, as well as knives and hunting decoys.

Lagan said most vendors come from Harford County, the Baltimore area and the Eastern Shore.

"We've got a full house, and we've got a few new vendors," he said.

The show is open to families, and many parents and children, who are interested in hunting or woodcarving, browse the display tables.

Lagan said some vendors have family-friendly wares such as butterflies under glass, rings and "trinkets."

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"They seem to enjoy looking at that," he said of the children.

People can buy firearms and knives at the show.

"I have dealers that make their own knives," Lagan said. "You can tell them what you want, and they'll make you a knife and get it to you later."

Anyone who wants to purchase a firearm can fill out the required paperwork at the vendor table, and the vendor can get approval from the Maryland State Police over the telephone from the show.

Lagan said buyers can walk out of the show with a "long gun" such as a shotgun or a .22 rifle, but they must go through a waiting period before obtaining a handgun or semiautomatic rifle such as an AR-15.

Proceeds from the show benefit the chapter's scholarship program. Five students from private or public schools in Harford County, who plan to major in course work related to environmental science, each get a $1,000 college scholarship.

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"The scholarships are the main thing," Lagan said. "It's pretty nice to see those kids up there getting $1,000 apiece each year."

Gun ownership rights have been a hot topic in recent years, especially since the passage of Maryland's strict 2013 gun laws, but Lagan said the Bel Air Gun Show is not geared toward making a statement about the Second Amendment.

"It's just a thing that was started years ago and we continue," he said of the show. "We're not making a statement."

The show runs from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5.

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