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June 15, 2011

NH ranks on top of freest states

It's truly the Live Free or Die state.

A study by the Mercatus Institute, a libertarian think tank, found New Hampshire is the freest state in the nation. The study, which was released yesterday, determined the Granite State had the least number of government restrictions on economic and personal freedoms, including gun ownership.

William Ruger, co-author of the study and professor of political science at Texas State University, said they defined freedom according to a universally accepted idea.

"Freedom for us is the ability to do what you want to do with your life and property, as long as you don't directly infringe on the rights of others," he said. "This is a pretty standard definition that Americans for hundreds of years probably would have accepted."

He said New Hampshire fared well, tying with South Dakota for first place out of 50 states. Massachusetts ranked 46th, Maine ranked 33th and Vermont ranked 30th.

"We looked at 150 different policies, everything from taxes and government spending to gun control laws, home-schooling regulations and drug laws," he said. "New Hampshire does really well in the economic realm, but doesn't do as well in the personal."

Local residents weighed in on the study results yesterday. The majority of those asked said they believe New Hampshire does allow for a lot of freedom.

Jamie McCarthy of Derry said he moved from Massachusetts to New Hampshire specifically for a freer way of living.

"Second Amendment rights are supported here and land-use rights, too," he said. "I always find it ironic when conservatives are interested in freedom, but make a big deal out of gay marriage. I don't care what people do in the bedroom; they're free to do what they want here."

Carolyn Garvey of Londonderry said some other states had less restrictive laws than New Hampshire, but she still felt free to live her life as she chose.

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