Tuesday, December 20, 2011


[h/t to Jay G]

In some circles, the Northeast US is synonymous with intrusive nanny-state politics--or with caring governments that shepherd individuals unable or unwilling to look out for their own best interests, if that's the way your political compass swings.

Either way, the generalization is grossly unfair. Do-as-we-say politics exist in the Northeast, but only in certain parts. Much of the rest is hardcore butt-the-hell-out territory. And in such a small space (relatively speaking), this can lead to some very interesting borders.

New Hampshire, for example, is very comfortable treating its citizens like adults, free to make their own decisions and their own mistakes. Massachusetts, not so much. On the NH side of the borders, you're in a shall-issue concealed carry state that recently overturned all of its knife laws, acknowledging that the legal distinction between a pocket knife and a "switchblade" is absurd. You can open-carry firearms with no permit at all. There's no mandatory seatbelt law, and a motorcyclist can decide for himself whether his head is worth protecting. You can use a cellphone while you drive. Fireworks are unrestricted. Try driving into Massachusetts without a seatbelt while talking on your phone, openly carrying a pistol, and towing a trailer full of fireworks, and you'll get a warn welcome from the Massachusetts prison system. I don't approve of MA's laws, but then they never asked my permission to pass them. With the exception of the weapons laws it's the prerogative of her people to accept a nanny state if that's what they choose.

The problem is that it's quite easy to cross that border without meaning to, and without even knowing you've done it. Little back roads between towns may cross several times with no signs. The state line cuts through communities and even individual plots of private property. You can be walking through town minding-your-own-business at one step, and committing-a-felony at the next.

To address this problem (and, let's be honest, to needle Massachusetts) some state GOP politicians have proposed a law that would allow local businesses to put up signs saying "Warning: Massachusetts Border 500 Feet".

I hope it goes through. What a photo op.


  1. If Google Maps is to be believed, you can apparently walk into Massachusetts by exiting out the wrong side of the Pheasant Lane Mall .

  2. Looks to be the case. From the wiki page:

    The nature of building on a border between a state with no sales tax (New Hampshire) and a state with one (Massachusetts) was shown in the changing plans and problems. Originally, the mall was to straddle the border, with retail on the no-sales-tax side. Restaurants were to be on the opposite end, since Massachusetts has a lower meals tax. However, the government of Massachusetts declared all customers, in all stores, would have to pay sales tax to Massachusetts. Therefore, the mall was redesigned so that all stores and restaurants were on the New Hampshire side of the border.

    However, the site lines had been drawn up incorrectly, placing one corner of the JCPenney building in Massachusetts. Consequently, the corner of JCPenney was cut off and re-bricked into its current pentagonal shape.

    Looking at the satellite pictures, it seems that the state line runs along the exterior wall. Even if the sidewalk is also in NH, one of the parking lots is still split diagonally, meaning when you park you could easily be in one state and your passenger in another. Since the Dicks presumably sells guns, it's not a trivial issue. Park in the wrong space--commit a felony.

  3. I think that walking to your car in Massachusetts so you can drive immediately back to your home in New Hampshire would be covered under FOPA's travel provisions.

    Not to say that you couldn't be arrested, jailed, and put through a criminal trial before being found not guilty.

    Just don't stop at Dunkin' Donuts.

  4. Doesn't FOPA (insofar as anybody knows for certain how the vague thing works) require that the gun be unloaded an inaccessible in the vehicle's trunk or in a locked container for the duration of your time in the unfree state? So I guess you'd have to buy a locking case with each gun, or make sure you parked with the car's rear end hanging over teh line into NH. ;)