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By Joe Bartozzi

New York has gone and done it again. The Empire State is considered the “least free” state in the Union. That’s not much of a surprise to those in the firearm industry or gun owners who call New York home.

Cato Institute released “An Index of Personal and Economic Freedom” ranking all 50 states on 14 categories of freedom, from economic freedoms (relating to tax policies) to personal freedoms, which included gun rights. Overall, New York ranked dead last.

That wasn’t just this year, though. New York has taken the dubious distinction every year since 2000. That’s 23 years straight. New York is good at being bad at freedom. They’ve got good – or bad – company. Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon and Maryland took the next five spots at the bottom of the list.

When it comes strictly to gun rights, Hawaii was listed as the worst. Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Delaware and Rhode Island rounded out the next bottom five spots. New York and California were 42 and 44 respectively.

On the opposite end, New Hampshire – the Live Free or Die State – was listed as the overall most free state in the Union. Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, Arizona and Tennessee were the next five spots. On gun rights, Kansas came out on top, with New Hampshire next, followed by a three-way tie for third between Arizona, Idaho and Utah.

New York

Those findings aren’t a big surprise for those who pay attention to the battle of gun rights versus gun control. The legal landscape for gun rights in New York is dismal. The state is fighting to preserve a law to allow unconstitutional lawsuits against gun manufacturers for crimes committed by remote third parties. Put another way, the state wants to let families of victims of the criminal misuse of firearms to bypass Congress and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). They want to use the families to sue gun makers for the crimes committed by criminals – but not for anything that the manufacturer did wrong.

That’s not all. New York passed a sweeping law restricting places where law-abiding concealed carry permit holders could actually carry a gun. That law initially put Times Square off limits. Criminals didn’t seem bothered. A court, however, reigned in the law.

A traffic sign on the corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue announces Times Square as a gun free zone. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

New York also now requires background checks for ammunition purchases. That new law is causing logistical nightmares. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) doesn’t run checks for ammunition purchases, so those must all be performed by New York State Police. That was so inefficient, a county sheriff attempted to buy shotgun shells for a sporting clays fundraiser and wasn’t approved until a full day after the event was over.

New York’s got a bevy of other problems. Residents have been giving up their New York citizenship for those of other states with lower taxes, few restrictions, lower cost of living, less crime and – yes – greater gun rights. More than half a million left in 2022 and the majority ended up in Florida – a state that was ranked second overall as most free.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams doesn’t seem to get it. He just announced that instead of calling on the Biden administration to enforce the law and protect the U.S. border, he’s going to eat into the city’s police budget and reduce the number of officers on the street. The NYPD will have less than 30,000 police on the job for the first time in decades, even as crime plagues New Yorkers.

Eric Adams
The Biden of Brooklyn, New York Mayor Eric Adams (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is a different story entirely. The state passed a Constitutional Carry law in 2017, which made it even more of an anomaly among its Northeast neighbors. Even before that, New Hampshire stood out from the rest of New England. While Massachusetts lost firearm manufacturing jobs to other states over onerous gun control, New Hampshire is home to SIG SAUER, as well as some manufacturing for Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Gov. Chris Sununu has rejected numerous gun control attempts during his three terms as the state’s governor, writing in a veto message, “New Hampshire is one of the safest states in the nation, and we have a long and proud tradition of responsible firearm ownership. Our laws are well-crafted and fit our culture of responsible gun ownership and individual freedom.”

There’s not a causal link, but there is a correlational link to be made. The states with the most freedom are also states that welcome the firearm industry and trust citizens to exercise their rights. Lawmakers in those states understand that taking away the rights of those who obey the law doesn’t correct the actions of criminals that ignore the law.

Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two pro-firearm industry laws in quick succession this year. Gov. DeSantis signed a law to prevent “woke” corporations with discriminatory policies against firearm industry members and other businesses from collecting taxpayer dollars through state contracts and pensions. Just days later, he signed another law that bars credit card companies from implementing a special Merchant Category Code (MCC) for credit card purchases at firearm retailers.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem Shotgun
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (courtesy Twitter)

South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem’s first act was to sign a Constitutional Carry law and later signed another law wiping out fees for those who wanted a concealed carry permit. She also signed an Executive Order prohibiting state agencies from entering into contracts with corporate banks that discriminate against the firearm industry. She’s been to NSSF’s SHOT Show to invite firearm and ammunition businesses to move to South Dakota, a pitch she continues to reiterate.

Cato’s Freedom Index underscores what the firearm industry has seen from years of business realignments. States that respect personal freedoms also tend to respect economic freedoms. Those states grow and prosper. States like New York cling to excuses to rachet down on rights, only to see their citizens and rights wither away.


Joe Bartozzi is the President and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation

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    • I give it 5 years.
      Two years of fascist majority taking it easy as to not scare the voters.
      Followed by two years of pushing their nonsense legislation.
      Then the fifth year where all the morons who voted for the fascists act all surprised that NH is now high tax, high regulation, high crime, low freedom Northern MA.

      Could happen faster. ME collapsed in less than two years after being taken over. Next year the last bit of ME will go away and it’ll become an extension of the MA shoreline.

    • I’m a lifelong Masshole, but at least I stay here year round on Cape Cod. When I was stationed on Governors Island, in the East River, my friends on the NYPD numbered over 38,000. At the time, the entire Coast Guard numbered fewer than that.

      • my wife is from Brewster. always thought it was unusual how conservative the democrats are out there. outside of p town , it seemed like an island of what used to be called blue dog dems.

    • So natives keep complaining, but UNH Dara shows that immigrants from MA tend to be more conservative, which is why they left. Southern border zone is very heavily Republican.

      • The three southern border counties have mostly Dems in the legislature. The borders, the money zones like Exeter and Lebanon, and the dependent cities are all Dems and their seats have only grown since I’ve been here.

        Maybe those massholes are voting for what they think are old-school Dems but they better get with the program now that Sununu is done. As wishy washy as he is he still stopped a lot of Dem bullshit from passing.

  1. Listen to what the fascists say out loud. Miner49er has stated that rights have limits. Freedom appalls people like him.

    NY will look like a free paradise if gangster joe and his minions get their way for all of us.

      • “Governor Hochul: “Since October 7, there has been a 400 percent increase in threats against Jews, Muslims, and Arabs.”

        …Along with plenty of threats from the students on campuses and the young antifa/BLM coalition, i.e. people without power. The only problem is these people have been complicit about threats and propaganda against [insert typical conservative demographic] people coming from the actual people in charge of schools, government, corporations, and the entertainment industry, i.e. people with power. Are they suddenly pretending like they’re against discrimination or are they playing a game?

        • They need a way to better counter “misinformation” in the classroom is the surficial excuse I have been hearing. More realistically seeking to control the narrative with the kids who are starting to connect the dots and identify parents who are class enemies.

  2. That’s interesting, but the Cato Institute is a longtime immigration propagandist. Billionaires need their cheap labor.

    • The city is run by an unholy alliance of politicians, paramilitaries, and criminals.

      Where has that happened before? Hint: south of the Rio Grand.

  3. The voters there vote for it. And, as H.L. Mencken said, they are getting what they voted for – good and hard.

      • Got a way to go bud. Only way I want to see you beating NY is us improving and you being half a heartbeat behind.

        • They are actively importing Spanglish as well as plotting how to raise taxes & screw gun owner’s. More than 80(out of 102)ILL annoy counties won’t enforce the obese billionaires decrees made in secret. We’re plotting a move east. Dunno where you could go🙄

        • When it comes time PA, OH, NC, SC, FL, AL and TN are all potential options for different reasons. Hoping we have enough time to do it with minimal disruption to financial future but the hell with being sent to a camp or having various neighborhood kids snitch us out for wrongthink real or imagined (only difference is how much of a lie).

  4. The Freest state, is the state of denial. Liberal/Progressive democrats who are indoctrinated to believe only the Rights, they agree with are actual Rights. As well as numerous others. That aren’t Rights, but they’ve been indoctrinated to believe they are. All of which is based on their emotions, rather than any possible intellect, they may possess.

  5. ” rather than any possible intellect, they may possess.”
    Seems Impossible that they possess much intellect, if any.

    • I think the situation is even worse in my humble opinion: Cato Institute ranked my state quite favorably even though I have had very NEGATIVE interactions with my state government in regards to freedom and justice.

      I suppose that it all boils down to one’s notion of “freedom”.

  6. Permitless carry in 2017 was not an anomaly compared to our neighbors ME (permitless since 2015) and VT (permitless since whenever in the distant past).

  7. Some (many?) people want someone to lord over them. Instead of the Lord God Almighty, though, they choose Government Almighty to lord over them.

    I am unable to think of any strategy to fix that.

    • Since they aren’t yet interested in saving their soul, maybe we could explain the real key to happiness. The key is to be a virtuous person and a hard worker. Being the opposite of that will inevitably lead to sorrow. A virtuous hard worker doesn’t need Big Daddy Government for fulfillment in their lives. The problem is, they don’t understand virtue. We have to explain that wokeness is actually the opposite of being virtuous. That’s going to be very difficult.

  8. Let’s understand “ex post facto”.

    If today, a new law comes into effect, that bans all ownership/possession of firearms. This new law, also declares that ownership/possession at any time prior to the date of establishment is also illegal, and a person can be prosecuted for ownership/possession of a firearm in the past.

    Such law is, indeed, “ex post facto”; punishing you for a legal act you committed prior the the new law.

    Now, lets consider a law that once enacted states ownership/possession of a firearm after the date of enactment is illegal. Such law is no different from changing the speed limit in a school zone that lowers the speed from 20mph, to 15mph. You are not subject to a ticket just because you drove that school zone at 20mph on any date prior to the enactment of the speed limit change.

    This type law is totally constitutional, not “ex post facto”.

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