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Published: Wednesday, 5/10/2006

Lucas County board allows gun show at Rec Center

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Four days before the Maumee Valley Gun Collectors Association is set to host its firearms show at the Lucas County Recreation Center, the county commissioners rescinded language that prohibited gun shows from being held on county property.

Commissioners unanimously approved the amendment to the Rules and Regulations for the Use of Lucas County Buildings and Grounds to eliminate language that had the effect of banning gun shows at the recreation center in Maumee.

Instead, commissioners adopted language that allows for gun shows with a proper security plan and the supervision of minors.

"I'm not sure why they were taken off in the first place. As long as people are following the rules, there's no reason they should be banned," Commissioner Pete Gerken said. "The Maumee Valley Gun [Collectors Association] will be happy. They have a show this weekend."

The ban on gun shows came about in 2002 under a previous board of commissioners. According to former Commissioner Harry Barlos, now Holland village administrator, the change in policy was the result of complaints from parents who were bringing their children to the annual holiday Children's Wonderland exhibit at the recreation center while a gun show was going on in a neighboring recreation hall.

"It's a combination of events that brought it to light," Mr. Barlos said yesterday. "It wasn't anything that was directed to or against the gun group."

Jeff Palicki, president of the Maumee Valley Gun Collectors Association, said the group moved to Bowling Green's Woodland Mall in 2002. Recently, a store moved into the space it rented.

Meanwhile, a case brought by a gun-show organizer in the Cleveland area was decided in court with the opinion that counties can't choose to bar certain groups from county buildings.

John Borell, a Lucas County assistant prosecutor, said that to maintain a ban on gun shows "would not hold up in court." He recommended the commission adopt new language that allows for the shows as long as a security plan for the event is submitted and approved and all those under 18 are barred from admission unless accompanied and supervised by an adult.

Mr. Palicki said the club was founded in the mid-1950s. Made up of about 1,900 members from across the Midwest, the club holds as many as six firearms shows a year, including Sept. 16-17 and Nov. 18-19 of this year.

Mr. Palicki said Maumee police officers have been hired to handle security. "We've been in contact with Rec Center all along and they all wanted us back there. They know us - that it's safe," Mr. Palicki said. "It's a good wholesome show."

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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