Petersburgh, New York is only about four miles from both Vermont and Massachusetts. If it werenâ€™t for the road signs, you might not know where one state starts and the other one ends. But even if the borders are invisible, there are profound differences when you cross them.
People in Vermont are very much like the people in Petersburgh, exceptÂ they can very easily buy guns. In fact, Vermont has fewer gun laws than most states in America, and Vermonters can buy as many handguns as they like with no license, permit, or waiting period. Then they can carry concealed with few restrictions.
In the time it takes you to buy a gun in Vermont, you couldnâ€™t even complete the application in Petersburgh.
A short way south, in Massachusetts, ordinary people can walk into a store and buy marijuana. Recreational sale is still in itâ€™s infancy, so itâ€™s not quite as easy to buy weed in Massachusetts as it is to buy a gun in Vermont, but give it time. People are standing in line to buy pot in Mass, but there are no lines for guns in Vermont.
In Petersburgh, marijuana means you need to know somebody â€”- or know somebody who knows somebody.
Itâ€™s true that there are more important measures of freedom than guns and drugs, but to many people, these are meaningful symbols of personal liberty. Both can be misused. Guns, sometimes, in terrible ways.
Petersburgh, so close, yet so far. If the wind is blowing right, you can smell the marijuana, and hear the sound of gunfire drifting over the hills.