this interactive map which graphically represents how states stack up against one another with regard to how much personal freedom their citizens have in comparison with residents of other states. Not surprisingly, Maryland, my former state of residence, came in at a pathetic rating of 44 out of 50.
Where Maryland fails is the personal freedom dimension, where it is the second-worst-ranked state. Maryland boasts the seventh-strictest gun control laws in the country: carry permits are expensive and rarely issued; “assault weapons,” cheap handguns, and large-capacity magazines are banned; sales are banned unless by licensed dealers; and so on. Its marijuana laws are fairly harsh as well, except that the first offense of high-level possession is only a misdemeanor, and the state has an almost-useless medical marijuana exception. Maryland’s impositions on personal freedom also include extensive auto and road regulations, tight gambling laws, a ban on raw milk, a law allowing police to take DNA from certain felony arrestees, burdensome private and home school laws that require private school teachers to be licensed and effectively subject curricula to government approval, very high drug arrest rates (though incarceration and other victimless crimes arrest rates are low), lack of same-sex marriage or equivalent status (since enacted by the legislature and confirmed by popular vote), high tobacco taxes, and an airtight, statewide smoking ban. The only personal freedom on which Maryland is better than average is the freedom to consume alcohol: taxes on booze are low.The low taxes on alcohol are just common sense; drinking heavily makes it easier to deal with the gross impositions on personal liberty.
How does my new state of residence, the Commonwealth of Virginia, fare? A vastly superior ranking of 8 out of 50.
What's most interesting about this survey is the direction each state is trending. Virginia went from 9th to 8th since the previous survey in 2011. Maryland, of course, went the other way - dropping from 42nd to 44th.
Looks like I made my move just in the nick of time.