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The last of Maine's big gun manufacturers closes down after owner's death

The last of Maine's big firearm manufacturers closed this month following the death of its founder earlier this year.

After Bushmaster Firearms moved their manufacturing to New York in 2011, Bushmaster's former owner Richard Dyke founded Windham Weaponry to produce AR-style rifles. Dyke owned the company his death in March at 89.

A statement on the company's website says the last few years have been a challenging time for the firearms industry, and the company has been unable to stay afloat.

According to statistics from the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, commercial gun manufacturing in Maine fell by over 75% from 2007 to 2021.

Jamie Pelletier is the manager of J.T. Reid's Gun Shop in Auburn. Pelletier says most New England firearm manufacturers have left for more southern states which offer greater tax cuts and a more welcoming political environment.

"A lot of manufacturers have left Massachusetts, Connecticut, places like that. They're not coming to the Northeast as much. You know, you've got Sig Sauer in New Hampshire, and that's about it," Pelletier says.

Windham Weaponry produced just under 23,000 firearms in 2021 — almost 99% of the state's total manufacturing numbers.

Nick Song is Maine Public's inaugural Emerging Voices Fellowship Reporter.

Originally from Southern California, Nick got his start in radio when he served as the programming director for his high school's radio station. He graduated with a degree in Journalism and History from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University -- where he was Co-News Director for WNUR 89.3 FM, the campus station.

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