MANCHESTER, NH—Oh, the joys of not being in Iowa right now. With no candidates turfing this state today, I got to spend the morning with about 20 members and friends of the Free State Project, the effort to move at least 20,000 libertarians into New Hampshire to mold the state into a Rothbardian garden of Eden. At 8:30 we met in a hotel lobby, and at 8:45 we piled into a school bus ("Nothing says liberty like a school bus!") and puttered off to the Manchester Firing Range. On the way out of the hotel the bus passed by the Straight Talk Express, a reminder that John McCain's buoyed campaign will be taking over the hotel when the Free Staters leave.
I sort of expected everyone to have some skills with firearms, but the group was bisected: Half the crowd was inexperienced, half the crowd brought their own guns or other equipment. Management tried to sooth the novices, explaining the kick they could expect from the different weapons: "The glock kick is like pattycake with a small, strong child." One FSer brought homemade .45 shells for his Lincoln 11, which wasn't working as smoothly as it used to. "This group is half people who want to learn to shoot and half people who are kind enough to teach them," said Free Stater Jon Maltz.
I had planned to interview the Free Staters in between shots (BLAM! BLAM! "It wasn't until I read Human Action that I really understood the economic system." BLAM! BLAM!) but we had industrial strength headgear and restrictions on filming the events. So I did most of my talking on the bus to and from the event and milling around. Bill Alleman, who blogs and posts videos under the name NHBikerBill, laughed about the Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton ads that trumpet their work for average schlubs ("He saved my daugher! She unclogged my toilet!") and argued that only Paul's got truly excited supporters.
"Nobody wants to vote for Romney or those other guys, but there are these voters who vote out of habit: Oh, there's an election, I'd better decide. Why should those votes count as much as votes for Ron Paul?" Bill shook his head. "You listen to him and you say 'This is how it should be, goddamn it!'