Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Illinois Ranked Last In Personal Freedoms

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Illinois is the number one buzzkill of a state in America.

    That nugget comes courtesy of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which just released a study entitled “Freedom In the 50 States.”

    Even though Illinois has done more for freedom than any state -- one of our presidents freed the slaves, and one of our generals made that stick -- we’re ranked #45 overall for freedom, and dead last for personal freedoms. We’ve been at the bottom of that list since 2007. The reasons? It’s hard to get high and/or carry a gun around here. Illinois also has harsh asset forfeiture laws, which put the burden of proof on property owners and grant 90 percent of proceeds from seized property to law enforcement.
    From the study:
    In the personal freedom dimension, Illinois has the sixth harshest gun control laws in the country, though these were improved by the McDonald v. Chicago decision striking down local gun bans. The state’s victimless crimes arrest rates are very high. In 2010, arrests for victimless crimes (excluding minors) made up over 1.5 percent of the state’s population; the vast majority of these were for drugs.
    However, that figure is actually an improvement on 2008. Illinois’s marijuana laws are more restrictive than Georgia’s, which is surprising for a left-leaning state. Its asset forfeiture laws are also among the worst in the nation. On the plus side, Illinois’s home school regulations were effectively as minimal as Idaho’s—a case of benign neglect, it seems. The state’s marriage freedom score will improve in the next version of the index since civil unions were legalized in 2011.
    The freest state, according to the study, is North Dakota, which has low taxes and loose gun laws. The state whose residents enjoy the most personal freedom is Alaska, which allows possession of small amounts of marijuana and concealed carrying of firearms, and has few restrictions on home schooling.
    New Hampshire’s motto is “Live Free or Die” (and indeed, New Hampshire ranked #4 in the survey). Illinois’s could be “The State Knows Best.”