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The Second Amendment protects the First. And the rest. Liberty in general. Any state that respects its residents’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms tends to establish and engender a broad spectrum of personal freedoms and business-friendly policies.

Click here for the Cato Institute’s weighting system for various categories that result in their chart. Note: firearms laws account for only 3.2 percent of the total ranking. Breakdown below. Meanwhile, here’s proof, if proof were needed, that the most gun control-heavy states are the least free. And that people are acting accordingly.


Here’s how Cato broke down the gun bit. What did they miss?

Gun control: 3.2%
Local gun ban: 1.0%
Concealed-carry index: 0.4%
Initial permit cost: 0.4%
Firearms licensing index: 0.3%
Waiting period for purchases: 0.3%
Initial permit term: 0.2%
Stricter minimum age: 0.2%
Assault weapons ban: 0.1%
Open carry index: 0.05%
No duty to retreat: 0.05%
Any other weapon: 0.04%
Dealer licensing: 0.03%
Built-in locking devices: 0.03%
Nonpowder guns: 0.03%
Restrictions on multiple purchases: 0.03%
Background checks for private sales: 0.02%
Registration of firearms: 0.02%
Design safety standards: 0.01%
Machine guns: 0.01%
Ammo microstamping: 0.01%
Large-capacity magazine bans: 0.01%
Sound suppressor: <0.01%
Short-barreled shotguns: <0.01%
Short-barreled rifles: <0.01%
.50 caliber ban: <0.01%

So now you know.

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  1. Cato placed undue weight on pot legality in their study. I guess doing drugs is an indicator of happiness for some.

    • It’s not a measure of happiness, it’s a measure of freedom. There is a very stark difference.

    • On their website, they provide facility for readers to enter their own weights for each variable to determine the resulting effect on state rankings.

      In their 300 page study, they detail how they arrived at the weights they used. You may want to check that out before dismissing the methodology.

    • What’s your definition of a drug? I guess alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are just nutrients for the body?

    • Self ownership is a big indicator of freedom. If the government tells you what you can and cannot put in your body, you are a serf, not a free man.

    • The fact that I can walk down the street and buy legal pot in Seattle is a mark of freedom.
      The fact that I don’t is a mark of intelligence. 😉

      OTOH, the fact that if I trade guns with a friend that I know is perfectly safe and legal to buy a gun, we both commit a felony, is a mark of tyranny.

    • Cato are nothing more then open border, pro mass immigration displacement, cheap labor hacks.

  2. I have been reading it since it’s beginning, but agree that it would be better if it allowed for more customization. Pot isn’t 2/3 as important as firearms to me either.

    • I have tried the customization and don’t see how to change the weights rather than just the items considered. Did I miss something?

    • Pot is an indicator of freedom.
      Guns are one of the substances of freedom.

      A lack of access to pot doesn’t leave you open to tyranny, enslavement, and wanton violent crime.

      • “A lack of access to pot doesn’t leave you open to tyranny, enslavement, and wanton violent crime.”

        No but enough pot access and you won’t care about the other 3. ;D

  3. A neat thing would be if they made the info customizable by letting a user change the level of importance to each of the item. I can dream a bit.

  4. Pot legalization is potentially weighted heavier as it reduces freedom killing things like: asset forfeiture, no knock raids, gang cash flow, tickets, and court costs. That’s just my wild theory.

    • Sounds a lot like weapon bans . Suppressors, MGs, dimensional/design laws, etc. The whole thing is black hole of liberty. “you can’t own this or…” or “you can’t use this or…” both sound a lot like great reasons for pro 2A people to at least take a live and let live thought process and apply it to the drug debate.

      I don’t think the drug debate is more important to liberty because you cannot defend yourself with pot, but I think its in the same category, even if a ways down the list of importance.

  5. First thought in my mind at NH’s #1 spot……..really? That’s sad.

    For the freest nation on earth this list is pretty cringeworthy.
    Like which prison grants its inmates more yard time.
    Number 1 might seem nice but in the grand scheme it’s a sad testament to how comfortable people are with having overlords.

      • We used to be top three. Most studies have us 9th to 12th. Hong Kong and Singapore have freer economies but I would not call those countries free.

  6. Like so many immigrants from other foreign countries, people from gun-free states are migrating to where they can start over again, implanting their warped culture wherever they land. I would venture these US immigrants to other states are more likely fleeing high taxes (which they will vote for in their new territories), rather than fleeing gun restrictions.

    Texas may be a “Whole ‘nuther country”, but Austin ain’t (just a FOB).

    • Austin is a blue island in a sea of red, but this former Rhode Islander now Austin native reckons our freedoms are not curtailed by the City and County governments. Much.

      • RF, did you ever see the sci-fi classic, The Blob?

        “Beware of the blob, it creeps
        And leaps and glides and slides
        Across the floor
        Right through the door
        And all around the wall
        A splotch, a blotch
        Be careful of the blob”

        Only fire can stop it.

        • The Blob is one of those fantastic B grade sci-fi movies which like, Them!, The Deadly Mantis and The Fly (1958 version) are awesome because they’re bad but not quite bad enough for MST3K.

          Paralyzing Horror!

        • 1
          After they legalize our new guests and hand them voting cards in Spanish they will change Texas like California.

  7. Illinois sucks but it’s better than this list. Shall issue is exploding. Cost of CC is plummeting with competition. And I don’t give a damn about pot…

    • You may not care about pot, but the War on the American People AKA The War on (some ) Drugs does care about you. You have lost many of your freedoms and are more at risk from armed government thugs because of the War on (some) Drugs than anything else.

        • I am much more concerned about asset forfeiture than the War on Drugs. Forfeiture is a legal shake-down for police funding (like buying $3000 sniper rifles for beat cops). The entire populace is the target.

        • Civil asset forfeiture came about specifically because of the War on Drugs. It’s designed to go after cash reserves of dealers when you can’t prove their dealing but you “know” they are. So the government comes along and basically robs someone they can’t prove is doing anything wrong in an attempt to disrupt their ability to pay suppliers. You can’t be concerned about CAF without being concerned about the WoD.

          The War on Drugs should be a major concern to every citizen. Under the guise of protecting us from ourselves “the scourge of dangerous drugs” (they sneak into your house and force themselves on your kids dontchaknow?) we’ve basically lost the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments as soon as the word “drugs” or “narcotics” comes up.

          Just look at how civil asset forfeiture has been abused because cash = drugs and drugs = you have no rights. So your cash is ours and if you play super, super nice maybe we’ll give you 40% of it back. Here, sign this NDA and we’ll talk about what percentage of your money we’ll give back to you. 50% don’t make us laugh, your overlords needs a new MRAP.

          Hell, it doesn’t even need to be cash. Own a hotel? Oh, well we busted a couple drug dealers in your parking lot… we’re taking your hotel and auctioning it off. What’s that? We caught those guys because you, the owner of the hotel, called 911 about them? No matter. Your hotel is ours now. Want it back? Sue us. Too bad we already sold it for that sweet, sweet cash. Like these new cruisers we got?

          • Agree. Forfeiture is one tentacle. But the only one I really fear will impact me most directly. As my neighborhood ages (no new construction anywhere in sight), the next tentacle that potentially has an immediate and direct impact is the SWAT attack gone bad – wrong house.

        • Keep in mind that “wrong house” SWAT raids are mainly due, again, to the existence of the WOD.

          Raids on the incorrect house, statistically stem from two things. The first is an address simply tossed out by a CI. They want the addresses of dealers and they say hey, give us X number of dealers and we won’t prosecute you. Well the guy only knows X-2 dealers so he adds in a couple random addresses. The second reason that these things happen, again statistically, is something called SWATing. This is a practice where you’ve pissed off someone in your neighborhood so they call the police, give them your address and say they see drug use/sales and weapons at your address.

          Both of these things are directly related to the WOD. You can keep chopping at tentacles all you want but what you really need to do is slay the beast.

          Otherwise you end up with this and it’s a bad day (another great movie btw):

          • You overlooked stupid planning by cops; poor intelligence has no repercussions.

            Tentacles are all we can hope to address. No politician will ever announce, “Let’s just end the WOD, heck, it doesn’t do anything, anyway.” WOD is like the IRS, and can never be abolished.

        • Sam:

          There’s more to it than that. There’s a graphic I saw maybe a year ago about the number of SWAT raids over the years and how they’ve gone up nearly exponentially. The reason isn’t stupidity or lack of planning. It’s that cops have an incentive to do this.

          There are two main incentives that I see.

          The first is justifying all the stuff they have and the expense of it all. SWAT teams were originally designed after Charles Whitman did his thing. They were designed for that sort of situation, hostage situations etc. However they’re expensive so now they use them all the time on “high risk” drug warrants just to justify the continued existence of SWAT in many areas. I live in a small town we have a freaking SWAT team. Why? I have no idea.

          The second is that drugs, even small amounts of drugs add up, especially when the fuzz inflates the value. That’s an incentive because the DEA gives money to local LEA’s based on the “amount” of dope they get off the street and they use dollar values as the metric. So an ounce of pot here or there doesn’t really do anything but it adds up to pounds and when they say it’s worth more than it really is they get to say they got $5 million worth of dope off the street and they get handouts from the DEA for that. The DEA however wants to see year over year gains to keep that sweet taxpayer cream flowing to the LEA. That means more raids and more lies every year.

          • SWAT teams are government entities. First imperative is survival of the entity (individuals are easily sacrificed at no loss to the entity). Second imperative is grow the footprint, and the budget. Third imperative is rinse, spin, repeat.

  8. It’s a nice primer for civil war. Maps out nicely.

    Thank you CATO, you are still bloated with worthless, but your stretched skin is less ~ shiny?

  9. WOOHOOO!!!! 49th in ranking. Cue the band, play the musics!!! California is number one…… Ah darnit.

    How did New York manage to out stupid California?!! We just had a slate of unconstitutional gun laws/ammo laws passed this year, and it isn’t even fall yet! There is still time to attain super duper dumbo level of anti gun legislation.

    And yet NY manages to out do us ? SMH

    Seriously though, the state rankings are in keeping with my opinion of living here.
    California is like the world’s worst museum, great to look at up close, but the heavens help you if you stay too long.

  10. I live in New York, and the only conclusion I can come to is that they were looking at NYC, which has different laws than the rest of the state. Ok, things here are pretty messed up, but dead last? It’s not THAT bad, at least in upstate. NYC on the other hand…..

    • Hey the rest of IL sucks it for Chicago and perhaps a few other areas. But mostly Chicago. California has LA and SF.

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