Long guns and pistols will be on display and up for auction at next month’s Lancaster County Friends of NRA banquet.
But, unlike earlier years, those attending the annual fundraising event Feb. 27 will not be allowed to carry guns openly, a National Rifle Association spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
The restriction is being imposed at the request of the banquet venue, Spooky Nook Sports in East Hempfield Township, said Kory Enck, NRA senior field representative for eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Pennsylvania law permits landowners and tenants to bar weapons on privately owned property.
Concealed weapons are not being banned at the Spooky Nook event and attendees with valid permits may bring them, Enck said.
Spooky Nook did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.
According to Enck, Spooky Nook had concerns that other customers at the facility might be taken aback by seeing guests carrying weaponry.
“They’re not saying anybody can’t come armed,” he said.
Invitations went out several weeks ago, he said, and they mentioned the no-open-carry restriction. He said he’s not aware of any complaints about it.
The Friends of NRA previously held its banquet at the Lancaster Host Resort and Conference Center, which recently was put up for auction. The Host did not impose an open-carry restriction, Enck said.
The event was moved due to uncertainty over the Host’s future, he said.
State health officials briefly closed the Host’s kitchen last year, and its owners unsuccessfully attempted to auction off the property in December.
The annual banquet is open to NRA members and nonmembers alike, Enck said.
It is a large event, with attendance of around 900. It features a buffet dinner, raffles and a silent auction. A live auction will begin at 7 p.m.
The proceeds go to the NRA Foundation for safety and education programs, Enck said. Half is allocated to grants for programs at schools, sportsmen’s clubs, nonprofits and so on, and half goes to the foundation’s own programs.
By law, the money cannot go toward NRA membership drives or political activity, and it does not, Enck said.
The NRA is the nation’s largest sportsmen’s and gun-rights group. Calling itself “America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights,” its opposition to gun regulation frequently is criticized by gun-control groups who decry its activism and political influence.
Nationally, The Friends of NRA has raised over $600 million since its inception in 1992.