By Len Flynn, NJ Libertarian Editor
This article contains interviews with NJLP members who have visited New Hampshire, the home of the libertarian “Free State Project .” (FSP). The FSP encourages libertarians to emigrate and establish residence in NH with the goal to facilitate libertarian political action and reforms there–or at least by preventing or limiting socialist/statist developments. After all, what libertarian could argue with the state motto: “Live Free or Die”?
New Hampshire has two FSP annual events where visitors and residents can celebrate freedom. From January 3 to Sunday January 6 the 2008 NH Liberty Forum will be held in Nashua, NH. This event is immediately prior to the primary elections on January 8, and the final scheduled speaker is Presidential candidate Ron Paul. The 2008 Porcupine Freedom Festival PorcFest 2008 will take place on June 9 to June 15, 2008 at the Gunstock Mountain Resort in Guilford, NH.
Evan Nappen is a highly regarded attorney whose practice in New Jersey specialized in the firearms issues. Evan still does about a quarter of his work now in New Jersey, and is active with his law firm in Eatontown. Evan says it is “real exciting in NH” but New Jersey is going to hell from “insane and horrible” laws coming. Now is a “very scary time” to be a gun owner in New Jersey. There are 60 pages of anti-gun bills pending in the legislature. There are efforts to increase penalties and create second-degree offenses. Now, possession of a handgun is a third degree crime, and one can avoid prison because pretrial intervention (PTI) is available for offenders. These are “manageable” offenses but second-degree convictions present ten years in prison with a seven-year presumption of incarceration and no PTI. This is merely for possession.
New Jersey also has a proposed 50 caliber rifle ban which includes muzzleloaders! Under the 50 caliber bans an original Brown Bess Musket is prohibited as a “destructive device.” Right now there are “gun courts” in place producing a “special brand of justice” for gun owners. The whole thrust of New Jersey gun legislation and regulations is about destroying gun owners not the weapons. Evan says New Jersey is a “sad place to live” nowadays and, of course, New Jersey taxes are increasing too.
Evan moved his family to New Hampshire, because he cannot see bringing up his son in New Jersey where he cannot play with a slingshot, use a BB gun, or go hunting or fishing. In NH the Cub Scout Camp in Manchester has a slingshot range and the Boy Scout Camp has a range for rifles, shotguns, and muzzleloaders plus it sponsors a “mountain man” course and merit badge. Evan is an assistant scoutmaster. He says there are “awesome scout camps” up there. Given such a comparison one can imagine why pro-gun people would go to New Hampshire.
New Hampshire has a “shall issue” license not a permit (implied permission) and the state allows National Firearms Act (NFA) weapons such as silencers (suppressors), destructive devices, and machine guns. Private sales of our arms are completely legal. One can purchase a handgun in one day at a dealer in NHand you can carry a firearm anywhere except in a courthouse. (Courthouses in NH are the only “victim disarmament zones” in the state but folks are reasonably safe there since the sheriffs are armed.)
There’s no state income nor sales taxes in New Hampshire. Evan purchased a bigger and better house in NH then he had in New Jersey and New Hampshire taxes are less. Evan got double the coverage and better auto insurance for one tenth the cost in New Jersey, and auto insurance is not mandatory in the state! In New Jersey every vehicle you own must be registered and insured. NH the only state in the union where the adults do not have to have or use motorcycle helmets.
Evan says, “When you cross that border, you feel the freedom.” He said “people get it” when they talk about the “New Hampshire Way” meaning respect for freedom, privacy, and individual rights. New Hampshire has the third-largest legislature in the world, 400 legislators producing a constituency ratio of 3000 to 1. All legislators are part-timers paid $100 per year. The New Hampshire Constitution has a right to revolution and right of secession explicitly stated. New Hampshire is not landlocked and has both access to the ocean and a foreign country border. Obtaining prescription drugs from Canada is not a distant, theoretical concept. The New Hampshire legislature passed a law making the “real ID” illegal by almost a unanimous vote. New Hampshire takes his stand solidly against the federal government on mandatory ID cards. As Evan says, he’d take a New Hampshire Democrat over any New Jersey Republican. Every New Hampshire town has all its financial records available for citizen inspection. The New England town meeting format means that any citizen can speak at town meetings and make proposals there. Everyone is a participant. “Local control” with the most direct access to government is solidly in place. Unfunded state mandates are prohibited in the New Hampshire Constitution and there is line by line voting on town budgets by the citizens! He says many people ask themselves “Why didn’t I come here sooner?”
Evan said he is still “guerilla fighting” in New Jersey but it’s great to be on the offensive in NH. Where is the free place to escape to after the rear guard action in the Garden State? New Jersey he says sucks the life out of freedom loving people. Evan says “it’s great to work with legislators who believe in freedom.” Ron Paul’s message is getting out there. Paul’s message is “getting people to think.” Evan said it it’s a lot of fun meeting all the Presidential candidates in NH–they’re all there!
Evan’s brother Lou Nappen is also an attorney and he will go to New Hampshire eventually, but right now lawyers can make more money in New Jersey because there are more people here. There is a “quality of life” in a place for liberty so eventually Lou will leave to seek it. Evan says there is an “incredible network” of free state project people. He said 60 FSP people helped him empty the two pods of stuff he moved from New Jersey.
Tom is a long time NJLP member who attended the 2007 PorcFest. He found the debate “quite fine and interesting” with two prominent speakers: John Stossel of ABC News and Congressman Ron Paul. He was particularly impressed with the debate between Republican and Democratic legislative leaders that was moderated by the editor-in-chief of New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Tom had the following thoughts about New Hampshire. First of all “it’s cold..” New Hampshire is “Vermont with jobs” but if you’re in information technology, you must commute to Massachusetts and deal with whatever regulations and taxes are there. He felt this inconvenience was still better than working in New Jersey. New Hampshire still has some people who seek to increase government controls. He noted that there is a smoking ban in restaurants, and Democrats are pushing for an income tax, but there is a big battle over that. New Hampshire is better on guns and has much lower taxes. Recently NH had to allow gay marriage through a state Supreme Court decision. This produced an “uproar” but legislative actions to reverse the decision were blocked. Tom believes that if you’re a self-employed accountant or lawyer, i.e., a “licensed professional” or if you own your own business you could fare well in NH, if there was a market for what you do. There’s no sales tax or income tax in the state. Finally, Tom noted that he is probably “stuck for the duration” in New Jersey, because of the excellent job he now has as a mainframe computer programmer. His position is “not portable” right now.
Tom was impressed with the greatly increased debate on libertarian issues in New Hampshire, particularly when compared to the lack of consideration of the libertarian view in New Jersey and the metropolitan area. He noted that one can escape state income taxation and most state firearms restrictions in NH but you cannot get away from the federal income tax, drug laws, interstate firearms laws, and “commercial companionship” prohibitions. Tom believes that New Hampshire regulates more professions than New Jersey doesfrom 100 to 200 professions. Property taxes in NH are about as large as New Jersey’s, because the entire tax load is levied on property.
The success of libertarian approaches to issues can be used in the debate to advance liberty and these successes can be used both in New Jersey and New Hampshire. Finally, Tom concluded that if his job situation allowed, he would move to New Hampshire readily. For now Tom looks forward to the next PorcFest.
Joe Dunsay is the Chair of the Northern New Jersey LP and he visited New Hampshire to “scope out the place.” He found that upstate New Hampshire is like traveling back in time, and he noted that Lebanon New Hampshire is a one hour drive from Quebec. He found Manchester, New Hampshire to be like Paterson, New Jersey.
Joe is involved in science education, and he noted that eastern Massachusetts has a publishing industry. “If I can find a job, that’s where I’m headed.” Joe taught science education in a charter school in Brooklyn and now is teaching mostly adults. He has an M.A./M.S. in ecology and evolution with particular expertise in biometrics.
Jay Boucher established residence in New Hampshire in 2006 and managed to get elected as town auditor.