From Gun Week April 10 Page 12Free State Project BeckonsSan Fran Gun Ban Last Straw For Gunowners Now NH Bound
by Dave Workman
The much-debated Free State Project may have gotten no better boost over the past several months than it has from the voters in San Francisco, CA, who passed a gun ban in the city last Fall which is now being challenged in court by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), National Rifle Association (NRA), and others.
The ban has convinced gunowners not only that they arenâ€™t wanted by what many perceive as a society dominated by social bigots in the â€œCity by the Bay,â€ but also that itâ€™s time to take their lives where their presence will be appreciated. The Free State Project is a grassroots movement in which pro-gun, Libertarian-minded people are bidding farewell to the lives they
know, and heading for the Granite State, where the motto â€œLive Free or Dieâ€ carries a special meaning to them.
The Free State Projectâ€™s goal is to attract as many as 20,000 people to live in New Hampshire, which was picked due to its low crime rate, and social and political environment. Itâ€™s a small state with a small government, and Free Staters want to keep it that way.
San Francisco resident Christie Cole and her husband are planning the move to New Hampshire â€œwithin the year.â€ Formerly a small gun dealer, this 26-year resident of San Francisco told Gun Week that â€œI guess I should have seen the writing on the wall in the mid- to late-1990s.â€
The gun ban vote was â€œthe last in a long string of thingsâ€ that has forced the Coles to the realization that, in a city that prides itself on diversity, â€œtheir kindâ€ just isnâ€™t welcome.
â€œI guess itâ€™s true what they say that if you give them an inch, they take a mile,â€ Cole said. â€œItâ€™s the slippery slope. Once you give in on something, itâ€™s just going to be worse. I donâ€™t like not being able to defend myself in my own home.â€Zoning Issue
The gun ban is not the first time San Francisco micro-managers have done things to alter Coleâ€™s lifestyle, but it will be the last. A few years ago, she recalled, her activities as an amateur photographer came to an abrupt halt when the city arbitrarily decided that her home darkroom, because it had a sink with running water, was an illegal third living unit in a home located in a residential zone that does not allow multiple living quarters.
When the Coles were small-time gun dealers, working gun shows in the San Francisco area, the required paperwork volume was piled ever higher. It became untenable, and the Coles gave that up. She now realizes that â€œthe idea was to put us out of business.â€
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Christie Cole â€œlovesâ€ the San Francisco climate and she is â€œa little worriedâ€ about moving to the Northeast Snow Belt, but conversely, she is â€œexcited about the idea (of living) in an area where your home is your castle.â€
According to Brian Gottstein, communications coordinator for the Free State Project, this is a movement of citizens who believe in limited government. The goal is to attract 20,000 people to move to New Hampshire, which was selected as a new home for Free Staters because of its small government, low taxes and gun laws.
â€œGun laws in New Hampshire were a key reason for its selection as the Free State,â€ he explained. â€œAny resident without a criminal record can openly carry firearms, and permits for concealed carrying are available to any resident passing a background check.â€
Gottstein noted that almost 10% of the projectâ€™s participants so far have come from California.
â€œMany are leaving to escape the stateâ€™s excessive regulation and taxation,â€ he acknowledged. â€œSome are leaving especially because of the repressive gun laws.â€Already Moved
Include among those already out of the Golden State and now residing in New Hampshire former San Franciscan Sandy Pierre. This 37-year-old lived in San Francisco when she was in her 20s, and then moved to nearby Oakland, which was like jumping from the frying pan into the fire in terms of a crime-ridden environment, she explained.
â€œWhen I was living in San Francisco a woman was raped outside my apartment and I heard the whole thing,â€ she recalled. â€œI wanted to go outside (but) the only weapon I had was a baseball bat. None of my neighbors went to the womanâ€™s assistance either.â€
Another of her neighbors was carjacked at gunpoint. Pierre decided it was time to leave California in her rearview mirror. She made the cross-country trip alone.
A resident of New Hampshire since May 2005, Pierre became interested in the Free State Project about two years ago.
â€œI really like the fact that New Hampshire offers a lot more personal freedom,â€ she said. â€œI was in grad school when I moved out here (and now) I work in a software company.â€
Pierre acknowledged that she did not own a gun while living in California, primarily because â€œIâ€™ve always hated the idea of having my name in a government data base, and I didnâ€™t used to be interested in guns. I had a pretty typical liberal attitude that guns were only for policemen but that started changing a few years ago.â€Realizations
Because of the crimes in her neighborhood, Pierre decided that she should at least learn how to handle a firearm. Then came another realization.
â€œI had never touched a gun in my life,â€ she said. â€œNobody in my social circle had guns.â€
Because of a peculiar San Francisco law, she could not legally go to a gun range to try shooting unless she was accompanied by another person. Ostensibly, this regulation is designed to prevent someone from committing suicide at an indoor gun range with a rental firearm. She actually had to place a personal ad in the local newspaper seeking someone who would go with her to the gun range.
Born in Rhode Island but raised in California, Pierre recalled a feeling of social isolation in San Francisco because of her Libertarian philosophy.
â€œUp here,â€ she said, â€œmy neighbors are so different; some of them carry guns 24 hours a day. It is nice and the crime rate is so much lower.â€
Among the influences that convinced her there is a better life outside of California was the Mel Gibson film â€œThe Patriot.â€
â€œIt used to be completely normal for kids to be handling guns,â€ she said.
Pierre and several of her friends are going to take a firearms safety course shortly, and the next step will be to buy a gun. She has no plans to become a serious gun collector, but having a firearm without all the red tape required under California law will be another step toward self-reliance.Nothing to Change
Free Staters Irena and Denis Goddard are not gunowners, but they are not ruling it out, and Irena admitted to Gun Week that Californiaâ€™s ever-tightening restrictions on gunownersâ€™ rights is one factor that led to their move to the Concord, NH, area last June.
Born in the Czech Republic and raised in New York, at 26 Irena moved to San Francisco where she eventually met Denis and they were married. They now have a 2-year-old son.
The thought of moving from San Francisco to New Hampshire did not bother them. They were looking for a simpler, less regulated life, and they found that it already exists in the Granite State. There is literally nothing to change.
â€œWe decided we didnâ€™t want to live there anymore,â€ she said of California. â€œThe politics were just getting ridiculous; the fact (of) so much spending, so many social programs, so many things we did not support.â€
Denis is a software developer for Oracle, while Irena has decided to take a couple of years off work to be at home with their son.â€˜Whatâ€™s Next?â€™
â€œWe did not leave exclusively because of the gun ban, but it was one of the many reasons why we left,â€ she said. California was passing laws, taking away liberties. Gun ownership is in the Constitution and we started thinking â€˜My god, whatâ€™s next?â€™ â€
Noting that Denis â€œwas always a Libertarian and I was a Republican when we met,â€ Irena gradually came to realize that she had a strong Libertarian streak as well.
â€œWe donâ€™t want the government to be telling us what to do,â€ she said.
They found the Free State Project one night on the Internet, and began researching the effort.
While she is not a gunowner, Irena has no qualms about people owning firearms. She believes gunowners are more responsible, and their presence makes for â€œa more polite society.â€ Additionally, she isnâ€™t the slightest bit alarmed that her neighbors might be carrying concealed handguns.
â€œI get along with my neighbors,â€ she said.
Hopeful that the future in New Hampshire will be far better than the past they left in California, Irena told Gun Week she feels right at home in her new surroundings.
â€œI have met many New Hampshire residents and they are â€˜us,â€™ â€ she observed.
More information on the Free State Project is available by visiting the groupâ€™s website at: www.FreeStateProject.org