What comes to mind when you think of the state of Arizona? Cacti? Desert? The O.K. Corral? Yes, we definitely have all of those things, but Arizona is more than just a romantic image of the Wild West. Here are five reasons that friends of liberty will enjoy the Grand Canyon State.
1. Gun Culture
Arizona might have the most open and permissive attitude toward firearms in the United States.
Arizona is covered with indoor and outdoor shooting ranges where you can hone your skills, and there are even vast swathes of public land that you are free to utilize for this purpose. Take a trip to the grocery store, and it’s not unlikely that you’ll see a civilian openly carrying anything from an old-fashioned revolver to an AR-15 rifle. That’s just how things are here, and even in urban areas, most people, including police officers, won’t react much to an enthusiastic exhibit of the Second Amendment. Behave responsibly with your firearm, and people will treat you well.
Of course, it helps that there are very few legal barriers to keeping and bearing arms. Individuals may sell both handguns and rifles to any resident age 18 or older with no paperwork requirement — provided that they aren’t known to be a prohibited possessor — and anyone age 21 or older may carry concealed weapons in most places without any permit (18-year-olds can carry handguns or rifles in public if they aren’t concealed). This relaxed “Constitutional Carry” policy came about in 2010 with the passage of SB 1108, and opponents’ dire predictions of blood in the streets have yet to come true.
2. Medical Rights
Despite Arizona’s reputation as a Red state, medical marijuana has been legal here since 2010 (and technically since way back in 1996, but some serious shenanigans took place), and try as Bill Montgomery might, it sure looks like the law is here to stay.
Also, Arizona voters recently approved a right-to-try law that allows terminally ill patients to try medications that haven’t yet been approved by the FDA. Laws like this — which admittedly seem to fall in the “no duh” category — were primarily championed by the Goldwater Institute, a think-tank based in Arizona.
People are flocking to Arizona to take advantage of all of the opportunity that the state has to offer. Maricopa County, Arizona’s largest county and home to our largest city, had the highest population growth in the entire country in 2016, and it’s not hard to figure out why.
Arizona’s economy has been growing and our unemployment rate has been shrinking. Arizona has the sixteenth lowest overall tax burden in the country, the cost of living in Phoenix is 58% lower than in New York City, and the state has been taking an axe to occupational licensing systems that impede people’s right to earn a living.
And, while many other local governments grapple with emerging tech companies and impose their archaic rules upon them, Arizona’s cities have, by and large, focused on making sure that these companies have a friendly environment in which to operate.
4. An Independent Spirit
Blame it on all of this space, or maybe even our state’s infatuation with the cowboy aesthetic, but whatever you attribute it to, Arizonans certainly have an individualist streak.
Of all the leaders to come out of the state, the one whose memory is most frequently honored is Barry Goldwater who, whatever else you might think of him, was famously independent, defending his ideas even against people in his own party.
And, what’s more, roughly a third of the voters in the state are registered as independents, holding allegiance to no political party. In 2014, Independents outnumbered both Republicans and Democrats in Arizona.
An effort was launched in 2003 to make Arizona a “Golden Rule State,” which even included license plates imploring us to “Live the Golden Rule.”
It’s probably silly to expect that a government campaign is going to turn us into better people, but the sentiment that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us is really at the core of libertarian thought. Put another way: don’t tread on anyone.
Originally from the state of Washington, Jacob moved to the Phoenix area at the age of eighteen and fell in love with Arizona and everything that it has to offer. He is a charter member of Phoenix Liberty Society, and he lives in Chandler with his wife, Ashley.