Museums, Libraries Outnumber Gun Stores in Every Maine County except Aroostook

By Bayly, Julia | Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME), June 20, 2014 | Go to article overview

Museums, Libraries Outnumber Gun Stores in Every Maine County except Aroostook


Bayly, Julia, Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME)


FORT KENT, Maine -- It's not often licensed gun dealers and museums are referenced in the same sentence, much less the same news story.

Earlier this week a reporter at The Washington Post did just that when he ran a nationwide, county-by-county statistical comparison on the numbers of federally licensed firearms dealers in relation to the number of museums and libraries.

Aroostook County, he found, is one of only two counties in New England where gun stores outnumber public museums and libraries.

"New England is museum and library country [where they] outnumber gun stores in all but two New England counties -- rural Aroostook County in northern Maine and Hillsborough County in New Hampshire," wrote Christopher Ingraham, the author of the article published in The Washington Post.

Maine has 504 federally licensed gun dealers, according to data from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives' online list of federal firearms licensees.

Statewide, according to the online list of the Institute for Museum and Library Services, there are 828 museums and public libraries.

Only in Aroostook County do the gun dealers outnumber the museums -- by a count of 52 to 51.

The inverse is true at the southern end of the state, where in museums and public libraries in Cumberland County far outnumber gun dealers by a count of 127 to 49.

For the purposes of data collection, according to Justin Grimes, statistician with the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the "museum" category includes "museums of all disciplines" including botanical gardens, historical societies, planetariums and aquariums.

Given the state's demographics and spread-out population, the statistics come as no surprise to people such as David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman's' Alliance of Maine.

"Hunting and shooting are deeply entrenched in the culture of Aroostook County," Trahan said Thursday. "Guns and gun ownership are culturally deeper there than in the rest of the state."

At the same time, Trahan said in no way are firearms and a love of culture mutually exclusive, a point Ingraham made in his article.

"[T]here's no reason you can't be a fan of both guns and museums (there is in fact a National Firearms Museum run by the NRA in Fairfax, Virginia)," Ingraham writes. "But viewed in relation to each other, guns and museums give some sense of a community's values."

Looking at those numbers, while a county such as Piscataquis does have more museums (22) than gun dealers (18), it also has the most gun dealers per person, with one for every 951 residents. At the same time, Piscataquis has more museums and libraries than any other county in the state based on population with, one for every 336 residents. …

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