(courtesy washingtonpost.com)

Wow. It’s been quite the day for bogus “empirical” attacks on Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. First slate.com goes all link-crazy in an attempt to prove that adult gun ownership is bad for children (including teenage gang-bangers and homicides). Now washingtonpost.com gets all in our face re: the relative number of gun stores vs. museums and libraries in various parts of the country. First . . .

What’s a library? Seriously. And while I love museums, I learned everything I know from the Internet. Well, I would have if they’d invented the thing a decade or two earlier. The lack of a library or museum in a community now means precisely nothing.

Which is not how WaPo blogger and “data journalist” Christopher Ingraham paints it. Here’s his justification for doing this gun stores vs. museums and libraries number-crunching (i.e. manipulating ye olde correlation equals causation formula to paint gun owners as uneducated riff-raff):

Keep in mind that these two quantities aren’t diametrically opposed – there’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, VA). But viewed in relation to each other guns and museums give some sense of a community’s values. As my colleague Emily Badger wrote the other day, we live in places that reflect our values, and many of us are sorting ourselves into communities that share our political views.

In case you missed that literal and figurative anti-gun shading, check out the header above Mr. Ingraham’s map: “Where guns are easier to find than knowledge.” Welcome to the Washington Post, where anti-civil rights bias is easier to find than anything remotely approaching genuine insight. Elitists. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live with ’em.

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102 Responses to Washington Post Blog Proves Gun Owners Are Ignorant. Or Not.

  1. What about “Gun Museums?” What category do those fall under?

    Also, Gun retailers are a great source for gun related knowledge. They are probably not a great source for fruit tree knowledge or knowledge on mangos or the manufacture of shoe soles, etc.

    Why are we comparing gun retailers to knowledge? They are not a dichotomy of opposing items on the same subject.

    Maybe they should check out the term “false dichotomy.”

    • My conclusions would be that having tons of libraries and museums is a symptom of focusing on the wrong problems. Instead of actually solving violence by staffing emergency agencies or encouraging firearm ownership, let’s fund landmarks instead.

      • Well said. I agree 100%. People in this country LOVE to focus on all of the wrong issues.

        Also, what exactly are they trying to imply by this chart? That because there are less libraries, we are suddenly illiterate or unintelligent? Or that less museums mean we care less about history? Give me a break. They are trying so hard to find some kind of tie that gun ownership is bad for this country. It is actually quite comical that THIS is where they are headed.

        • It’s akin to research analyst. And, yes, it’s basically a fancy term for an intern, or low-level researcher…

          They do all the monotonous data collecting, so all the big brains don’t have to waste their time.

    • Or a map overlay of number of museums and libraries per capita and per sq mile. Correlation is not causation.

  2. And the Keweenaw peninsula (the horn sticking up off of Michigan’s U.P.) is firmly in the darkest of the dark green. There are a lot of museums because almost the entire area is a national historic site. There aren’t many gun stores, but the ones that exist do a lot of business.

    Oh, and one of the museums that would have been taken into account is practically next door to the local university’s indoor rifle range.

      • As well as some dirt poor / high crime areas of AZ and other states with large amounts of tribal lands (many tribes ban guns and gun stores).

      • Eric gives guns away out that way so no gun retailers can really make a go at it. With the current state of the Internet, libraries have become largely useless so I would expect those to be propped up by government and grants so the homeless will have a cool place to dry off and urinate.

  3. It’s almost as if it tracks almost exactly with the overall population density of the US………..

  4. So. According to the infographic, my county has >=3x more gun retailers than museums/libraries. I can think of 2 or 3 local gun shops, 4 sporting goods stores that sell firearms, and Walmart. So, 7 or 8 gun retailers. One county library (with several branches), the community college library (which is open to the public) and 8 or 9 museums. So, 10 or 11 libraries and museums. That’s what, 1.4x more libraries/museums than gun retailers?

    • It also fails to take into account private businesses, like an antique store, that sells books and ancient artifacts, if by artifacts I mean the random crap found in old houses. So they only take into account municipally funded libraries and museums? What does a pawn shop count as, if it sells not only guns and ammo, but also old books, paintings, sculptures, and artifacts of life long ago, like what you would find in a museum? This isn’t comparing apples to apples, or even apples to oranges. We are comparing apples to rocks.

  5. This is how a Culture War works — create quick, visual associations between “Gun-Owners” and anything low-brow.

    This is how gun owners will become “other” and will suffer mass incarceration like the OTHER “other” — drug users. And (MOST) people in the “other” (“Liberal”) sub-culture won’t care.

    BTW: Notice that gun friendly and high gun owner Northern New England is pretty “green”. So these stats are non-sense as are ALL anti-gun “by state” arguments I have seen.

    So far as gun-stores go — I shop at a store that is part of family home / log-cabin — in the woods. Great place. [Bennington, VT]

    • Also consider that it makes perfect sense that New England would be loaded with museums and historical landmarks. American History has been happening in New England longer than just about anywhere else in the US.

  6. Offhand, the blue areas are highly correlated with where homicides occur. Do homicidal maniacs like museums and libraries? No, that can’t be it. It must mean something. Being a dumb^$$ gun only with only two grad degrees, it’ll probably take me longer to sort it out.

  7. Look at the map. Culturally Kansas and Oklahoma are very similar. You are going to tell me that Kansans are significantly more knowledgeable than Oklahomans or Missourians?

    Ridiculous statement.

    I can make up stuff too. I think that the reason the east coast and west coast have more libraries and museums is because they aren’t allowed the fun guns and ranges that the central US enjoys. Therefore they have little recourse but to construct libraries and museums to occupy their time.

    • I’m thinking this is a map of gun availability, and the rest is an erroneous junk science assumption.

      Its more of a map showing were there are no customers to buy guns, either due to lack of population or authoritarian restriction – hence the Everglades and Alaskan wilderness.

  8. What is a “gun retailer”? An actual store? Someone with an FFL selling from their house? I’m familiar with some of those places in the west showing the 3x gun retailers. Most of those areas are national forests or barren dessert areas. Very little traffic areas for a museum.

  9. Besides the info graphic being a blatant falsehood, I love museums.
    Natural history, aerospace, art. I’ve been to most of the big ones. Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles…

    Oh wait, I’m supposed to be stupid. Where’s my loin cloth and club?

    • Sure you can. For one, I learned that the NEA considers a crucifix in a jar of pee to be a great use of our tax dollars.

      As Ralph demonstrates, a good many museums are simply tourist traps and curiosities. And libraries? I’m typing this out on the single biggest source of knowledge mankind has ever assembled, so why the hell does it matter if some hamlet in Massachusetts has an extra brick-and-mortar library or two?

  10. What’s stupid about this comparison is that one can open a gun store for as little as $10,000 – $3,000 for first month’s rent & security deposit, $500 FFL fees, less than $200 for incorporation (Florida), $300 to get internet & electricity connected. Bring the computer you are reading this on in to use as shop pc.

    Say $1,000 tops for used furniture, get 2 crates of Mosin Nagants for $4,000 and 5 highpoints for $1,000 and boom…

    In comparison, $10,000 in my neck of the woods (Palm Beach County, South Florida) would not even be enough for 6 months of landscaping on any of our county libraries.

    Don’t get me wrong, God Bless our library system in South Florida – it is truly tops and I am a very frequent visitor. But this is not comparing apples to oranges, this is comparing differential fluid to a Martian invasion…

  11. Funny… I looked at the map and thought it was crime map; the darkest green areas representing the highest crime areas.

  12. That is one of the most inane maps Ive seen lately.
    Does the Washington Post really expect readers to even pay attention to something like that??
    I know I wouldn’t take more then a cursory look if at all.

  13. Let x be the initial number of gunstores in an area and y the museums and let the libs use y/x as some dumb ratio (call it the smertnass) now lets triple the guns, and double the musems….. (2y/3x) er my garsh the group with twice the museums is less smert!

  14. Every Cabela’s and BassPro I’ve been to is also a hunting and fishing museum. Regardless, a museum is of no use to me when I need a firearm. There are lots of museums in the LA area. I certainly don’t see any of them stopping crimes or defending lives.

  15. “Where guns are easier to find than knowledge.”

    As a Texan I notice there’s many counties along the Rio Grande with more “guns than knowledge”. These counties also have a very high Hispanic population… what are you trying to say WaPo?

  16. Writers who think they are smart showing their stupidity.

    Sh!t like this is why I no longer buy or read the NYT or Washington Post. As institutions they’ve become little more than Pravda for the mega rich in this country.

  17. Here are some of the “museums” that nitwit Ingraham is bragging about:

    Bad Art Dedham, Massachusetts
    Asphalt Rohnert Park, California
    Baking Manhattan, Kansas
    Bananas Auburn, Washington
    Barbed Wire Lacrosse, Kansas
    Bathroom Fixtures Worcester, Massachusetts
    Fasteners Julian, California
    Gopher Holes Torrington, Albert
    Gourds Angier, North Carolina
    Mustard Mount Horeb, Wisconsin
    Pez Dispensers Burlingame, California
    Pretzels Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Sand Freeport, Maine
    Sandpaper Two Harbors, Minnesota
    Sewing Machines Arlington, Texas
    Snowmobiles Sayner, Wisconsin
    SPAM Austin, Minnesota
    Superman Metropolis, Illinois
    Surfing Santa Cruz, California
    Telephones Leslie, Georgia
    Thermometers Onset, Massachusetts
    UFOs Roswell, New Mexico
    Vacuum Cleaners North Canton, Ohio
    Voodoo New Orleans, Louisana
    Whiskey History Bardstown, Kentucky
    Wooden Nickels San Antonio, Texas

    If guns scare away dumbass museums, add that to my checklist of why I like guns.

        • Well, if there is not pretzel stand outside of that museum, someone is missing the boat big-time.

          Like the hookers who hang outside of the strip clubs and bars in Vegas, it’s shooting fish in a barrel.

  18. Welp… looks like a map for places that gun shops are economically unviable (legislated out in many cases).

  19. Damn I love living in St. Louis. The fact that we are absolutely LOUSY with museums and yet still the dark, rich brown of gun freedom makes me all kinds of pleased.

      • More people die from cars hands down, not to mention alcohol related deaths. Where is the report on that. Why is the car accident at 3am not still on the news days later?

        The point is.. more people die from NON-gun related events but get the last page, or are not even published.

  20. Speaking of which, what happened to that slate story you guys did? I was gonna go back and fact check it later.

  21. Funny, I live in a town with no gun stores, a library, and 2 museums. Everyone I know personally owns at least one firearm. I can sit outside on any given day and here someone target practicing just down the road from my home.

  22. I seriously question the accuracy and validity of this map. In fact I’ll go further than that and say it is an outright lie. The western half of South Dakota is sparsely populated being inhabited by Indian Reservations and cattle ranches. In these areas you will find FAR more guns than humans. Almost all towns are under 1,000 people with MANY being under 300 people. Out there guns are tools, like a wrench or hammer. Only in some fantasy world do libraries and museums outnumber guns in ANY square mile of South Dakota. Out here the librarians and museum curators are packing pistols.

  23. “The lack of a library or museum in a community now means precisely nothing.”

    Thank you for making their point.

  24. I was about four sentences in to the article when it hit me!! What this country needs is museums with gun stores inside OR gun stores with museums inside.

    • I thought that was what Gander Mountain was…a gun store with a museum inside…their prices have a lot of people looking at items aging under glass.

  25. And yet the gun owners are more likely to have STUDIED history (in comparison to a stereotypical, “open-minded” museum type.)

  26. Here is an excellent example why this map is bogus.

    In the case of CT, there are many, many communities have zoning laws that do not allow a gun store to even exist. My town specifically, we have a library and no gun stores.

    In the town my brother lives in, there is no library, but technically there are two gun stores. Since they law in his community does not specifically allow a gun store, one gun store is in an Antique shop and another is a Pawn Shop

    In Darian CT, again, for zoning, the gun store is in a unfinished furniture store. The first half of the store you walk into is unfinished furniture, the back half is a gun store, but it is listed as a furniture store. Given the number of times I visited that shop, I do not believe he has ever sold a single item of furniture.

    I doubt very much his data is accurate. Just like all gun control advocates, they have to make shit up

    • I am going to bet he included Museums that are now closed as well, because looking at some areas in CT, some have been closed due to budgets/funding.

  27. This whole thing means nothing. All this map does is mirror population. More towns packed closer together means more stuff in general, including museums and libraries. I bet they’d also find more gas stations and prostitutes in the blue areas. It means nothing.

    To echo what others have said about other areas, I’ve lived in central PA a lot off and on and I’ve also lived in NW Alaska. There are plenty of gun stores in central PA, but libraries and historical society museums are common. In the town I lived in in NW Alaska, there was one library, one museum, and one gun store. They all got quite a bit of use, because in December in NW Alaska, you take what you can get.

    Last, I love history, I value libraries, and I am obviously a gun owner. I’ve learned a lot about history through my love of firearms. I know what the recoil of a Short Land Bess with a .75 caliber ball feels like. I know the precision of a Finnish Mosin Nagant and the four clicks of a Colt revolver. Because of firearms, history isn’t just stuck on pages for me. I’ve lived a little bit of it.

  28. I really wish he’d explained his data a bit more. The only county I can speak to specifically is Forsyth County Georgia, where I live. He shows 28 gun stores, and 6 museums and Libraries. Our local library has four branches, Cumming (yes, really), Hampton, Post Road, and Sharon Springs. I guess you could call our local historical society office a museum, but they have quite a few firearms on display, so maybe they’re also a gun store? I have no idea what the sixth museum/library would be.
    As for gun stores, he shows 28. The only ones I know of are: 3 pawn shops, WalMart, Dick’s, and Academy Sports. Even if you triple that number, you’re still 10 short, so I’d really like to know how he came up with 28. Maybe he just used an FFL database?

    Anyone else care to analyze their county?

  29. To compare apples to apples, look at CA and TX on this map. Both are large, urban, border states with similar demographics, except CA has more Asians, which are a low crime demographic.

    CA has a higher murder rate than TX.

  30. Funny thing, just as an example, if you look at the map, it shows the Chicago Metro area heavy with Museums and Libraries, but yet Chicago has the highest murder rate in the country…go figure…

  31. Too bad they don’t use the libraries to read history and see what happens to countries that have confiscated guns. But then again they probably have the “new and correct” history books like the schools do.

  32. +1 WI PATRIOT…You stated pretty much my point. NO gun shops in Chicago-many world class museums. Lots of dumba##es & violent criminals. Personally I haven’t been to my local library in years except to pick up tax forms. Computers and smartphones take up the slack. I also used to have a vast library of antique and fine art books & reference material. I got rid of most of it. This map is absolute BS.

  33. I wonder the ratios of strip clubs to museums. Liquor stores, tobacco shops, sex shops, and god forbid how many more Starbucks are there than museums.

  34. Using the author’s methodology the only reasonable inference is that museums cause violent crime.

  35. I was at the WWI museum in Kansas City on saturday. There were quite a few guns and artillery pieces there. Plus I passed by Cabelas on the way there.

  36. California is in the top 3 of FFL license holders in the US. For being a anti gun state we sure do have alot if guns.

  37. HORSE HOCKEY as Sherman T. Potter would say…

    1. One word INTERNET…no one uses libraries, unless they are a) homeless or b) in college and need a quiet place to study. Everyone else in #EveryTown an iPad, iPhone, or WiFi to get their research on.

    2. By that logic, I can say libraries and museums also lead to more violence (gun and otherwise), more traffic deaths and heck more STDs.

    3. Google (unless you are homeless and have to wait to go to library to use computer tomorrow) “spurious correlations” for a giggle.

  38. Guess I need to pull all my books from their shelves and burn them. Obviously, since I’m a gun owner, I can’t be knowledgeable. Good bye Faulkner, good bye Chekhov. John Milton? Who needs a two-hundred dollar copy of Paradise Lost with all those big words and beautiful engravings? Dante, Plato, Herodotus? I’ll have to get rid of those too. Seamus Heaney? People who own guns apparently don’t read poetry, let alone understand it, right? What a crock of horse manure. If I’m not spending ridiculous sums of money on guns, accessories, or ammo, I’m spending ridiculous sums of money on books. Last time I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art with my sister and brother-in-law (who is also a gun owning veteran) we stayed until it closed.

  39. This map is inaccurate as shell. The 2 plus area in Utah is a desert, there are no gun shops or towns out there.

  40. This isn’t even apples and oranges. Comparing private enterprise with generally government/public funded instructions isn’t a far comparison. I lived in Rapid City, SD, which is in the long light brown rectangle in the south-west corner of SD (Pennington County). I can think of three museums in town, the Journey Museum, the Museum of Geology, and the Dahl Art Center. We had 1.5 libraries, the main branch down town, and the north branch which shared a building with one of the public schools. In the surrounding are there was also Mt. Rushmore with the Borglum Museum, Crazy Horse, the SD Air and Space museum, and the Adams Museum. Each museum was always well traveled, especially during the tourist season.

    At the same time, there had to be at close two dozen FFL’s in Rapid. Of course we had Cabela’s, the big Scheel’s, one dedicated gun store (First Stop), one bait and tackle store that also sold guns (the Rooster), but we also had the Wal-Mart (sold guns) and a dozen or so pawn shops.

    Looking at the map, I can’t figure out how a place like Rapid could go from brown to blue. What would you close down? The Cabela’s is a major employer, and sells a lot of stuff that isn’t just guns. Same for the Wal-Mart. If you closed down the only dedicated gun shop, you’d still have several times more “gun retailers” than museums. You’d probably have to shut down the pawn shops too, or at least take away their FFL’s. Then it would be maybe, a 1:1 ratio. You could build more libraries and Museums but they wouldn’t last. Rapid has a very nice library, but its a town of 70,000 people. The library as is meets the community’s needs. I’m not sure if another museum or two would get patronized enough to remain open.

    Sure Rapid City has its issues (every city has its issues), but I don’t think reversing the ratio of museums to FFL’s is going to fix anything.

  41. In the original article, he mentions that he used ATF’s database of FFL’s for the gun retailer count. That’s going to include every last guy in his apartment with a license, presumably even curios and relics licenses, and not just actual storefront retailers. Wth the advent of ecommerce, the location of the FFL is less relevant than before. Now, it’s more reflective of the business friendliness of the state, than it is indicative of the location of the business’ actual customers.

    As for museums and libraries, check out their actual visitor counts (caution: museums are notorious for inflating their visitor counts to justify further funding), especially those of locals versus tourists. I doubt many D.C. denizens regularly trek down to the Smithsonian, nor New Yorkers go to the Guggenheim. Why should those liberal bastions get credit simply for having something, if it’s the rest of us from fly-over country who actually visit and support them?

    For these, and a million other reasons, the author’s cutesy claim is false, misleading and offensive.

  42. and there are probably more doggy diaper businesses than there are cat walking companies but what the fu<k do i know.

  43. Where’s the graphic showing where the strip clubs are? Would have been more interesting, and at least as relevant.

  44. They got the Blue part right. If you live in, or are from a “Blue State” you may be part of the problem. If you have a (D) after your name, the problem is part-of-you.

    I really dig how (although the ‘brown’ areas may have been meant to be a dig) that it looks like MARPAT digi-print. HOORAH. ; P

  45. This graphic confirms what I thought before – I should be living in south central Oregon or in Idaho…..

  46. Gun owners tend to be at least marginally capable and willing to provide for themselves and theirs, including their defense. Meaning, less likely to fall for any old scam cooked up to enrich the ruling Junta.

    Libraries and Museums are, more often than not, financed by the Junta, built by their favored contributors, and staffed by reliable stooges. For the express purpose of aggrandizing those in charge. I’m pretty sure there is a fairly strong negative relationship between private gun ownership and statues of “Great Leaders” as well. For exactly the same reason.

    Of course, hundred years of publicly funded indoctrination, combined with self selection of the most abjectly simpletonian into predominantly liberal professions like WaPo blogger, all but renders appreciation for the obvious a step too far amongst that particular cohort.

  47. can we overlay that map with the map of the locations of McDonalds? as long as we’re comparing things that have no relationship to anything… might as well.

  48. Hmmm. More “knowledge” in a state where 200k people voted for a guy that was involved in illegal gun trafficking to violent criminals and had dropped out of the race prior to the election? Right…

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  50. It seems to me that people who actually want knowledge these days Google the object of their desire. Only a fool or an academian actually tours a museum. Also, it seems to me, that people who see that the share of taxes will be spread over a larger group are more apt to vote in a levy for a museum, since they aren’t really practical in smaller locals. This is really nothing so much as big city chauvinism with nothing to support it in the real world. God save us from museums and spare us the funds to by more arms and ammunition. No, really, my degree is in history and based on that I say again; god save us from museums and spare us the funds to buy more arms and ammunition. A museum is where you go to see things as they once were and it doesn’t take much of that to learn that slavery and oppression were the way of things for centuries. If you don’t like slavery and oppression, own guns. It’s the surest way to stave off oppression, history says so, the kind you’ll find in museums. Enlightened people favor freedom, museums are supposed to enlighten. Owning arms tends to enlighten people. . . people who are enlightened by owning arms aren’t so much for museums. I wonder why? Why would people not vote to spend money they don’t have to enshrine things they already know? Why do large cities and the federal government vote to spend money they don’t have and can’t get to build museums and other such wonders which do no person any good? Oh, it’s not ‘their’ money. . .

    Seriously, screw WaPo and think for yourselves. What’s more important to you? The RKBA or museums? These liberals are pathetic, un-American and anti freedom but they don’t even know it. Let’s show it to them; who’s willing to fund a museum of the follies of leftist political thought? I’m sure they’ll support public funding for that one.

  51. They just drew the dividing line for next Civil War, thanks, when the thing kicks-off, I might’ve mistakenly attempted to take over one of them light or dark brown areas. Whew. ; P

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