LEWISTON, Maine — Neither snow nor 30 mph winds can keep Dan Beggs from a gun show, though it did take him a while to dig out of his driveway on Saturday afternoon.
The Auburn collector scoured the tables at the Elks Club on Lisbon Road where JT Reid’s 2nd Annual Gun Show went on as if a February blizzard hadn’t gripped New England for a second straight day.
Beggs, a collector of World War II guns for the past 25 years, was hoping to find some M1 carbine parts — and he did.
“World War II stuff, you’re never gonna find everything you want ’cause they’re scarce,” he said. It wasn’t as big as some of the other gun shows, but Beggs said the selection Saturday was impressive.
Ray Hamilton of Livermore gripped the barrel of an AK-47 rifle, the butt resting on his foot. He was hoping to sell it, but he found no buyer.
“I bought it years ago, but it’s not my cup of tea,” he said, his preference leaning more toward old-style firearms.
“I’m more of a muzzleloading guy,” he said. There were only a couple at the show, he said.
Most people shopping at shows are seeking modern weaponry, he said.
Hamilton was one of half a dozen people inspecting the array of handguns and rifles on display near the show’s end at 2:30 p.m.
Show host John Reid said about 300 people showed up Saturday; 15 were lined up at the door when it opened at 9 a.m.
“That’s the gun people,” he said. “They are die-hards.” The organizers were getting calls starting at 4:30 a.m. from people asking if the show was still on.
Reid was hoping to get closer to 1,000 people on Sunday.
The show featured rifles dating back to the Civil War era and some made last year. There were AR-15s, some made in Maine. There were handguns as small as American Derringers.
Reid, owner of JT Reid’s Gun Shop in Auburn, is also a collector. He bought three guns for himself on Saturday.
Over the past couple of months, business has been booming, he said.
“There’s no question about it,” he said. “Every gun dealer will tell you that their business is up markedly over the past couple of months.”
That’s, at least in part, a response to new gun-control measures proposed or expected to be debated on the state and federal levels.
Reid, like many of the shoppers at the show, said lawmakers should be talking about how to keep people who are mentally unstable from accessing firearms or any other weapon.
He, like others, believes background checks should include mental health records.
“I don’t think there’s a gun dealer here that wouldn’t like to see that,” Reid said.
As for other gun-restriction measures, Reid said those who would ban so-called “assault” weapons aren’t gun people; otherwise, they wouldn’t use that term.
Any gun — or other weapon — can be used to assault somebody, he said.
As for limiting the number of rounds in a gun’s clip, Reid said he can reload a 12-gauge shotgun as quickly as a semiautomatic weapon can fire. And a shotgun is more lethal, he said.
That’s not to say Reid doesn’t think there should be discussion about the subject, but only if both sides are open-minded.
Ed Fournier of Auburn brought his son, Isaac, 10, to the show Saturday.
Fournier said he keeps a couple of .22-caliber guns in the house.
Isaac said he’d like to try shooting something bigger.
“Daddy, I want to get a .50-caliber machine gun,” he said
“Good luck with that,” his dad said.
An automatic weapon requires a special license, Fournier said, adding, “I don’t need one. I’d like to fire one, but I don’t need one.”
Fournier, who is a hunter and collector, said he picked up some ammunition at the show.
“I’m a collector,” Isaac said. “I’m not collecting guns yet.”
“A little too young for that,” his dad said.
Distributed by MCT Information Services