And just across the border…

A Californian living on the border with Arizona, Nevada or Oregon cannot legally buy a modern defensive rifle like an FAL or an AR15. His neighbors living just across the state lines in all the neighboring states can. Either Californians are all terribly untrustworthy, criminal and murderous or they are merely less free than their neighbors. Because criminals are already prohibited from buying or owning guns under federal law, so all the restrictions are on the law-abiding people who are not felons.

A resident of Illinois can look at the neighbors a few steps over the border with any neighboring state and know that they are able to carry sidearms legally. Either Illinoisans are all terribly untrustworthy, criminal and murderous or they are merely less free than their neighbors.

A person moving from New Jersey to the neighboring Pennsylvania pays lower taxes and gets so many civil rights back that the move feels like emigrating from the USSR.  So we can safely conclude that residents of New Jersey are less free than their Western neighbors.

Having seen first-hand how much effort, time and risk my parents wagered on getting our family out of the USSR, I am at a loss why so few leave the oppressive, restrictive and overtaxed jurisdictions when the effort required to move is so much less. On the plus side, most people who leave have more initiative and marketable skills than average, and so improve their new residences while their old locations decline further and further. The increase in geographic stratification is beginning to show, and hopefully illustrates why being more free is better than being less free.

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24 Responses to And just across the border…

  1. Erik says:

    Some of us are staying behind “enemy lines” to fight the good fight. If we don’t stop it where it stands, it will spread. Emissaries of this oppression are already spreading to major cities in Free States and are influencing the politics there.

  2. anonymous says:

    “I am at a loss why so few leave the oppressive, restrictive and overtaxed jurisdictions.”

    Because gun ownership and gun rights are not a big deal to most people. We really need to get over ourselves.

    As somebody who owns dozens of guns but no longer has any convenient place to go shooting, and was very active in the gun rights movements in the 1990s and early 2000s, I find myself caring less and less about gun rights. I haven’t changed my opinions about gun rights, but it’s just not as important an issue to me as it was 10 to 20 years ago.

    Just out of curiosity, did your family own property in the Soviet Union?

    • Steelheart says:

      Apparently you have changed your opinions about gun rights since they aren’t as an important issue to you as it used to be.

      Some of us still believe that the right to defend ourselves matters.


  3. Kevin says:

    You can’t “own property” in a communist dictatorship. It’s that whole “communist” bit.

    And I could argue that objectively that residents of Illinois and California are more violent than people in neighboring states.

    Illinois for some reason doesn’t report their violent crime rates. Hmm. However the murder rate is 8.4. Compare to Indiana at 5.3 or Wisconsin at 2.6 or Kentucky at 4.3.

    California’s violent crime rate is 473. Arizona is 423, Oregon 261. OK, there is that pesky issue of Nevada at 704, but what happens in Vegas needs to stay in Vegas.

    • Awtha says:

      If you think you “own property” anywhere here, try not paying your taxes & you’ll certainly see who the “master of your fate” is.
      Very thought provoking posts all.
      I can’t help but think of what was going through the minds of folks in Germany (& other places) prior to the SHTF only to have waited too long & rounded up as. . . . undesirables. But where to go?

  4. Nick Pacific says:

    Thing is, people move to our free state, then start demanding we make changes to reflect the place they just left. Drives me crazy.
    It is, however, the major reason why I do not live in Illinois despite being asked repeatedly why I don’t move. I can live a life over the border I can’t in Illinois, and do it cheaper. In exchange I live 30 minutes further from a city. I can live with that.

    • docjim505 says:

      Yeah, that happens here in the South.

      “Well, back in Brooklyn we use to…”


  5. HerrBGone says:

    Oleg, you raise an excellent and timeless question. One that was addressed in the Declaration of Independence.

    “… and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

    Or to move to a place with freedoms to which they are unaccustomed.

    I am writing this from behind enemy lines in Massachusetts. A place that has apparently forgotten its history of fighting for the freedoms that have long since been taken from its citizens. One day, hopefully soon, I intent to move to New Hampshire, where those freedoms still live. Nowhere near as far a move as your families, but a move for much the same reasons.

    Looking at the political climate in the rest of the country as you have commented here on your blog, I hope it’s not too late to save our nation from the Massachusetts mentality. Or New Jersey, or Illinois, or California. You can boil a frog if you raise the temperature in the pot slowly enough. That is exactly what has been happening with the likes of the TSA and over use of SWAT and other affronts to our specifically enumerated Liberties and Constitutional protections. I sincerely hope there is still time…

  6. Drew Rinella says:

    This is a simple and profound piece of writing. I wish there was a way more Americans could understand the oppression you must have faced first hand. With a better understanding of history, maybe more of us would appreciate and help preserve the freedom we have here.

  7. MSgt B says:

    Well put.
    Happy New Year to you and yours, Oleg!

  8. JOE MATAFOME says:

    Awtha has a great point because we don’t really own property, we just RENT it and do as we’re told or it will be taken away. The nanny states that insist on running everyone’s life know what’s best for you, and you should just be quiet and do as your told or get spanked.

  9. tired dog says:

    Some years ago PA welcomed travelers crossing the I-80 (or maybe I-78) bridge with a billboard that read; ‘Pennsylvania-Where America Begins’.

    I don’t believe that either the sign or the sentiment still exists though PA does offer some relief from the top down command and control apparatus entrenched in NJ.

  10. Harmony Hermit says:

    Excellent essay. Years ago I moved from Long Island to the wilds of Pennsylvania. The freedom I gained more than made up for the sacrifices I made to make the move.

    The billboard on Interstate 80 near me that greets travelers from neighboring New York refers to Pennsylvania as the “State of Independence”. How true.

    Most people remain in states like NY, NJ and Cal because they fear loosing their lifestyle. Folks in these states, especially those employed by the various levels of Government, are compensated lavishly and would loose that level of comfort moving to a state like PA that does not pay as well for the same job. If they are married often the better half of the association would rebel having to move to a more primitive state (In their eyes). The Real Estate Saleslady I used to find my home in conversation stated that women do not stay in my area long. I have seen this with several couples that moved in locally, only to leave within a short time and go back “Home”. Americans want “Convenience” and are put off by not having a hairdresser down the street or a local supermarket. They do not want to drive for an hour to go shopping.

    Me. I love Pennsylvania, and kick myself for not moving three decades earlier.

    Freedom is worth the sacrifice.

  11. Awtha says:

    along with this topic Ms Wolfe has some pertinent input:
    (I found this site reading Massad Ayoob stuff. . . . wonderful magazine too.)

  12. Robert says:

    Never underestimate the sheer inertia of daily life. Or the power of laziness in human affairs, for that matter.

    As the quote from the Declaration says, it’s very difficult to turn your life upside down unless the alternative is totally stark and immediate. That holds especially true right now, as any property you sell will be sold in a buyer’s market, and most will take a loss — and a real loss out of savings, not just a loss on paper.

    My final point concerns the last item: talk to any financial advisor and you’ll find out that what’s called “loss aversion” prevents many, many people from bailing out of bad situations (fiscal and otherwise) when they should. They just keep hanging in there, hopin’ things will get better. Often enough, they do — provided you can wait long enough.

    But not always. Sometimes things don’t improve, and then they get worse. My own hunch as to why the Jews in 1930s Germany kept hanging on was due to some variety of this. (Also, many were poor and leaving would have meant throwing away even what little they had.)

    Democracies are in principle able to action ahead of time to avoid social/economic catastrophes. However, it seems that in reality, the priceless vase has to fall off the table and go smash before society is able to ignore the special interests that prevent society from taking action to avoid the mess.

  13. K2 says:

    Like most leftists – they left big loopholes in the California law – you can buy what amounts to a fully functional AR-15 which has been altered to allow only a slow magazine change. Not only that, but you can buy rifles like the Ruger range rifle or the Keltec SU-16C just like an ordinary hunting rifle – no fees – but which are, for all intents and purposes “assault weapons” – they just don’t have the evil pistol grip and flash suppressors, but with a grandfathered 30 round AR mag will take out a carful of gang bangers just as efficiently as the AR-15 owned by the guy in Texas.

    So obviously the point of the California “assault rifle ban” wasn’t to get weapons off the streets – it was to criminalize the hard core 2nd amendment types and keep a legal rope around the neck of the politically hated “gun nuts”. This process continues, but at a slow pace, which is why we need to keep pushing back – harder.

  14. I moved out of Californistan 15 years ago for the Freedom of AZ. Arizona had me at “open carry”.

  15. Vlad says:

    I left nj, refuse to work contracts in nj and nyc. For clients that insist that PA can’t be paying that well I offer to do the contract but with a $5,000 a week hazard surcharge for having to go unarmed.
    I haven’t taken a salary hit moving to PA, and I hit the state by depriving them of taxes on my 6 figure income, and potential property taxes. If more people did this maybe there would be a chance of salvaging nj, ny, ma, ca, il etc.

  16. Jeff Wong says:

    Why stay? Tech jobs and weather.

    Neither of those matter to me. I was born here. I can understand why people are afraid of “assault weapons” on an emotional level. We had some mass shootings here and most of the shooters were law-abiding citizens. The solution of “just deal with it” falls on deaf ears and is even quite callous. Californians could simply accept the risk of mass shootings as just a normal acceptable risk of life. We accept the risk of earthquakes and car accidents because we choose to have the benefit of great weather and a lot of us live in big metropolises and are willing to drive an hour to work. For non-gun owners, there is no perceived benefit to gun ownership for anyone. Like cycling, sport for some but a hazard or inconvenience for everyone else, therefore it should be restricted.

    Aside from the ban on open-carrying (its own bag of worms), things have been improving somewhat WRT guns. Right-wing gun rights advocates are not helping anyone by merging gun rights into their overall culture war. The passage of time has been the best advocacy as evidence that gun owners didn’t go crazy (except for the ones that do). Plus people are inured to mass shootings and it’s harder to care or be shocked.

    I used to live in Pittsburgh, PA so coming back was hard. And Pennsylvania changed me. I have family here. I could ditch them for Portland or Seattle, but it is hard to leave somewhere with good things. Not the same kind of hard as leaving the USSR. More live, a what will you exchange for your gun right? Is there a point to having a rifle to protect your family if your family didn’t want to move with you?

    Also, learning about ROE and reading Ayoob’s stories actually made me a bit more indifferent about living or dying. Is getting murdered by a criminal any more tragic than being crushed by a teenager who was texting on a iPhone? There is no answer for that, but perhaps you can see how similar thinking styles can result in different policies in different contexts.

    The best way to advocate gun ownership in CA is to blend it into the hipster culture, which produces annoying street liberalism.

    Nice website BTW, Oleg. I always thought you were a bit of a self-righteous freak but I like your sexy pictures. I think I own some of your books too.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      The practical aspects of gun ownership are secondary to me, although restrictions on that tends to coincide with higher taxes and more corruption. The main reason for trying to avoid the more controlled states is that I just don’t like being in jurisdictions that criminalize the exercise of a basic human right to a significant degree.

      • Jeff Wong says:

        Sure, I understand the whole conscience thing. That’s one of the reasons I would never travel to the PRC and avoid products when possible. Or diamond buying.

        To you, it’s a travesty. To me, it’s an annoyance and stupid public policy. OTOH, the right to self-defense is a different right than the right to water. I would be pretty pissed off if I lived in those fracking regions and suddenly my well was unusable or flammable. But I’m a unprincipled pragmatist, and you can be sure I would rank these rights differently if I lived somewhere like the Congo or Somalia, where guns may be used to obtain access to water.

  17. Woody W Woodward says:

    People remain in a tyrannical state for the same reasons an abused spouse stays with the abuser. The victim has too much invested in the relationship and is convinced that things will get better because every time the abuser mistreats him/her the abuser says it’ll never happen again as long as the victim accepts the abuse, agrees to abide by all the rules, and doesn’t cross the abuser again. The victim and the abuser accept the premise that all the draconian regulations and “disciplinary” action the abuser metes out is justified because of some perceived misdeeds on the part of the victim. The victim has been made to believe he/she cannot survive on his/her own and truly needs the abuser in order to survive.

    Those on the outside can’t understand the reasoning while others refuse to acknowledge that it even exists and write the victim off as too stupid to effect a change. Those on the outside who do see what is happening cannot hope to effect change without the cooperation of the victim which is, more often than not, not forthcoming.

  18. FRANK ROSA says:

    An interesting web site – a case of like attracting like. Here’s a BEAUT from a Hunter Safety Instructor – “I have a problem with extending the PRIVILEGE of fireram ownership to a felon…” I reminded, said person that firearm ownership is not a privilege, it is a RIGHT. Further, the Second Amendment does not provide exceptions, the PEOPLE are the PEOPLE. Remember JIM CROW laws, and a plethra of others passed without the PEOPLES knowledge like a slow moving pandemic…


  19. Chris Meissen says:

    Oleg, I can wholeheartedly agree with you. I grew up in Illinois. I moved away in 1985 to take a job in Nebraska. In 1995, I moved to Missouri. After becoming accustomed to being able, to being TRUSTED, to buy a firearm whenever I wish by merely putting the money down and filling out the federal forms, of being able to carry openly as a right and concealed as a “shall issue” right, those few, those very few occasions when I cross back into the state where I was born make me feel like I’m crossing the Brandenburg Gate into the old East German Democratic Republic. An acquaintance, after I’d made that statement to him, observed that what he saw upon crossing into Illinois was a series of signs warning of things that are illegal in that state. He saw no such signs when returning to Missouri.

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