In MN, it’s easier to find a gun than a library book

Washington Post

In a lot of Minnesota — northern Minnesota, primarily — it’s a lot easier to find a gun store than it is to find knowledge, or so the Washington Post characterizes the situation.

On its Wonkblog, it has plotted out the number of gun stories in every county in the country vs. the number of museums and libraries.

By mousing over the map (you’ll have to go to the website, the images above is static), the data is revealed.

In Cass County alone, there are 28 gun retailers, but only nine museums and libraries.

That 3-to-1 ratio is generally the same in the most gun-heavy counties, with one exception: Sherburne County, where there are only four museums and libraries, but 28 stores to sell you a gun.

Somewhat surprisingly, the “knowledge heavy” counties are mostly not in the metro. Yellow Medicine County, for example, has a 3-to-1 ratio of museums to gun stores. Rock County has 4 museums, just one gun store. Counties along the Iowa border are decidedly library and museum friendly.

The most gun-heavy county in the country is Deschutes County in Oregon, which has almost 7 gun stores for every library or museum.

Only 13 states have more museums and libraries than gun stores. Minnesota is not one of them.

  • Gary F

    Which amendment covered libraries and museums?

    • Not that it’s relevant but the 1st.

      • jon

        2 is twice as many as one, so twice as many gun dealers should be the magic number.
        and getting 21 times as many liquor stores as libraries and museums should be fairly easy.

        I don’t know what conversation would be relevant here, comparing libraries to gun stores is like comparing …. books and bullets?
        Comparing the number of the amendment that allows for each seems like it would be just as relevant…

        Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy an interesting comparison, and a fun way to show how unrelated data can be related… (I do love me some data)

        • Dave

          Well, there could be some relationship. There are more museums, for example, in interesting places. That’s why coastal California and NY and Boston have a lot of museums. Rural Minnesota is not interesting, so no museums.

          Libraries are in population centers.

          • Kassie

            Can we say “rural Minnesota is not as interesting to most people?” Rural Minnesota IS very interesting for a lot of us. And most of those museums in CA, NY and MA aren’t about the place they are in.

          • DavidG

            well, the strip of Southern MN says otherwise…

  • Gary F

    I have been to the NRA Firearms museum in Virginia. Can’t buy a gun there. Really cool display of American and world arms.

  • Erik Petersen

    You’re being a dupe, Mr. Colllins. There’s no lamentable values observation to
    be melancholy over re a libraries to ‘gun store’ comparison based on these
    statistics. It’s complete phony baloney.

    That ‘gun store’ number reflects individuals who hold Federal Firearms Licenses and are thus allowed to engage in dealer / manufacturer / collector activity. The vast majority of these individuals do not operate their own retail establishment in conjunction with this license, as licenses and stores are not necessarily related entities. And in reality, individuals with licenses outnumber physical stores by several multiples.

    As a statistical matter, I’m sure it’s also fairly easy then for guys with licenses to outnumber libraries and museums. But it doesn’t mean anything.

    • John

      Perhaps the number of people with licenses should be compared to the number with library cards. That’s probably not as grabby a headline though.

      • Erik Petersen

        Certainly. But while library cards are ‘good’ and guns are ‘bad’, figure that library card holders outnumber FFL holders by quite large margins everywhere. There’s 26 FFLs in Sherburne county apparently (per Bob’s citation). There’s probably several hundred or several thousand library card holders there.

        So given the premise, which is to cherry pick something ‘good’ to compare against guns, library cards fail to provide the statistical shortfall for a lamentable, melancholy observation on society’s values and priorities that is the whole point of the exercise.

        The answer is not to pick a comparison that works. The answer is to note that the whole exercise is one of confirmation bias in the first place, and that its obtuse and artificial.

        • John

          yeah, that’s pretty much what I was getting at.

  • Erik Petersen

    I would venture to guess the actual amount of storefront retailers
    in Sherburne County selling guns is 5 or so.

  • Ma Barker

    This is so true. I used to work with a guy from St. Louis county who regularly bragged about owning 3 handguns and a couple rifles (with plans to acquire many more…). I’d be surprised to learn he could read at all. BTW he was convicted of 2nd degree criminal sexual assualt on a 5 yo boy…so that says something.

    • L. Foonimin

      what does it say? … I own 3 handguns, several long guns, have never been accused or tried for any violations, I have an advanced degree from the U of MN, fluent in 2 languages

  • Tim O’Malley-Stephenson

    I think this is a conversation starter but not an intellectual piece. 25 individuals who got their FFL licenses but don’t actively deal guns in a county with one or two huge amazing high quality museums versus a county with a mega Cabelas or giant Gander Mountain and a few mediocre museums and a dozen mediocre libraries doesn’t seem to make comparisons like this educational. Someone could have thought this through more before wasting their time.