LEWISTON — The 42nd annual Twin Cities Gun Show – held Saturday and Sunday at the Lewiston Armory – drew many people of various backgrounds, opinions and skill levels. They all, however, shared an interest in firearms and a desire for change.

Steve Rendall of Portland, treasurer of the Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association, which was raffling off firearms and gun range time to raise money for veterans, attended the show with his organization.

Rendall said he is horrified by what is happening in the country right now, referring to mass shootings, and said listening to one another would be a step in the right direction as the nation debates gun control.

“I believe in common sense for the people of this nation,” Rendell said. “And I served in wars so people can have different opinions.”

Association member Jared Sawyer said there are differing opinions within his organization, and conflict is avoided by respectful debate and open discussion.

“Absolutes are not always an answer,” Sawyer said.

Skip Warner of Eliot walks through the 42nd annual Twin Cities Gun Show on Sunday at the Lewiston Armory. Warner says the solution to school shootings is better security. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Skip Warner of Eliot, a proud gun owner who, like many attendees, had a firearm at his side as he browsed the vendors, said the solution to school shootings is better security.

“It’s really important to protect kids,” Warner said. “We’ve got metal detectors and armed guards at banks, where there’s money, but at a school, where we’ve got something that is worth protecting, there’s nothing.”

Warner proposed arming trained officials to protect schools, and adding metal detectors and alarms. He said requiring all teachers to be armed is not the answer.

“Not everyone should be armed,” Warner said. “Guns aren’t for everyone.”

Pete Gordon of Second Amendment Sports in Westbrook said he thinks more laws would not solve the problem.

“Chicago has some of the most-stringent gun laws, yet it’s the murder capital of the country,” Gordon said. “So many shootings happen in gun-free zones. More laws won’t make a difference. We’ve got to enforce the laws we already have.”

Doug Hamilton tells others from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association about a gun he saw for sale at another booth Sunday during the 42nd annual Twin Cities Gun Show at the Lewiston Armory. At right seated are Paul Witten and Terry Wright. Members of the group were at the show raffling off a gun as a fundraiser for charities. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Gordon said that when he was in school, gun safety was taught and firearms were stored in students’ pickup trucks in the parking lot outside his classroom. He does not remember any shootings.

Marc Clapp of Durham said he does not own a firearm, but has interest in them – along with safety concerns.

“The safety of anything depends on the responsibility each of us takes,” Clapp said. “I believe it’s an individual choice, but with regulation that safety is promoted above all. I struggle with more limitations for law-abiding citizens. If something can be illegally obtained, it should be able to be legally obtained.”

Jim Jones of North Augusta Firearms said he takes seriously his personal responsibility as a gun shop owner because keeping guns away from those who might abuse them is not always easy. Vigilance and proper security are important for firearms dealers.

Jones explained that at gun shows, when someone purchases a firearm from a licensed vendor, there is always a federal background check.

The purchaser must produce a state ID. The background check is then called in or done online. It will then come back as proceed, delayed or denied. But Jones said even if the check comes back as “proceed,” the seller can still decline the sale.

“There’s no way to prove they aren’t buying the gun for someone else,” Jones said. “Beyond that, 99 percent of the problem isn’t the federal government, it’s the state.”

“If someone commits a crime or has a mental health problem, the state might not report that to the federal.”

Jones said as a gun shop owner, he has to be able to read people. And if someone seems nervous, that is a red flag.

But there are loopholes, and attentive gun shop owners can be easily avoided by purchasing firearms through private sales, according to Ed and Lisa Gleason of Sidney.

“A lot of it depends on the honor system,” Lisa Gleason said.

Rendall said while there may not be easy answers to the gun-control debate, respect for others is a good start.

“From my experience in the military, I know the importance of a well-armed citizen,” Rendall said. “What’s equally important is respect for one another, especially people who are different from you.”

Liz Marquis can be contacted at:

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