As the remnants of Hurricane Dorian dampened eastern Maine on Saturday, exhibitors at the 42nd annual Bangor Gun Shop reaped the benefits, as a large crowd of gun collectors packed the aisles at the Anah Shriners’ facility on Broadway.
“It’s a rainy day in September. That’s good [for business],” said vendor John Robinson of Albion, who has been displaying his wares at gun shows for about 10 years.
Robinson said he collects a few guns but is primarily interested in reloading or constructing his own cartridges by assembling the component parts. He thinks of the activity as a hobby. His girlfriend isn’t so sure that term is accurate.
“She calls it a mental deficiency of hoarding,” Robinson said with a laugh.
Charlie Rumsey of the Penobscot County Conservation Association, which has run the show since it took over management of it from the Bangor Daily News in 1994, said the morning crowd was impressive. The parking lot of the events center was full and a steady flow of attendees worked their way through crowded aisles, looking at rifles, handguns, ammunition, knives and other outdoor gear.
The show is a fundraiser for the PCCA’s long-running scholarship program, which benefits college students studying wildlife conservation and wildlife law enforcement at the University of Maine and Unity College. The show runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday.
Rumsey doesn’t just organize the show. On Saturday, he had his own tables set up, where he tried to reduce the size of his personal gun collection, one sale at a time. And business was good: He sold two rifles and reloading equipment in a 15-minute span around noontime.
Rumsey said he’s proud of the reputation of the Bangor Gun Show, which makes sure that every modern firearm sold at the show is sold to a person who passed the National Criminal Background Check.
“Every modern firearm is under a NICS check, and if we find a dealer who doesn’t do that, he won’t be back. He’ll be dismissed immediately,” Rumsey said. “The liabilities of it are too horrific.”
John Reid of Auburn, who owns J.T. Reid’s Gun Shop, said he’s been coming to the Bangor Gun Show for more than 30 years, and looks forward to returning to eastern Maine each year.
“I was born and grew up in Dexter,” Reid explained. “It’s always been a great show here. Mr. Rumsey and crew, they do a great job.”
Rumsey and Reid weren’t shy when asked to share their thoughts about Walmart’s decision this week to stop selling handgun ammunition in the wake of recent mass shootings in Texas.
“Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic,” Reid said. “I have a full-time shop in Auburn. We have a Super Walmart up the road, and when they came out with that [policy] I was ecstatic.”
Rumsey said the absence of Walmart in the handgun ammo business would just leave more of the market open to smaller dealers.
“They will go to local gun shops, because the people who own the firearms that they were selling ammo for are not going to stop using them,” Rumsey said. “What it is, is part of that ‘feel good’ thing: We’ve got to do something. It’s a totally meaningless gesture, and it’s not going to impact anything in one way or another, for their concerns of what we’re seeing in the news in these unfortunate mass shootings.”
Note: John Robinson’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.