Here are a few personal observations about the state of Maryland and Montgomery County in particular, where I live. Since I didn’t know where the statistics used for the other states analyzed on SurvivalBlog came from, for the cost of housing, car insurance, etc; I didn’t want to dig up any off the wall numbers, so none are listed. The only exception is for firearms ranking by “Boston’s Gun Bible 2005 ed.”, which I have. I only discuss the main part of the state of Maryland and not the western part which is not as developed. The western part of Maryland is mountainous, very hilly and fairly remote from the rest of the state. Throughout this article I have underlined what I feel are important points.
First are Montgomery County’s official statistics from their web site. “Montgomery County is Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction and it’s most affluent. The County is located to the north and adjacent to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and includes 497 square miles of land area. The topography is rolling with small hills.” Population of the county in the 2000 census was 873,341. Population as of January 2005 was 942,000. [JWR Adds: Gee, just your county has almost half population of my entire state, which, BTW has more than four times the land area of Maryland!]
State Sales Tax is 5%. However Maryland ranks number 17 with the highest personal tax rate in the country. Also in Montgomery County’s case, affluent means very high property taxes. The state is now (2007) considering a proposal to raise the sales tax to 5-1/2 or 6% to increase revenue.
Agriculture- Maryland’s crops are mainly corn, wheat and soybeans. However its big cash crop is the Chesapeake Bay crab, which has been caught in lower than normal quantities in the last few years due to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. In the last ten years there has been an increase in horse farms in Montgomery County (783 farms housing 12,000 horses in 2002). Farmers take their regular farms and board the horses of the more affluent that live in condominiums and expensive houses. Maryland used to be a tobacco producer but with everybody turning against anything tobacco related, a lot of farmers are selling their multi-hundred acre farms to development companies. These development companies are building townhouses as fast as they can bulldoze the land. These townhouses are sold starting at about $200,000 and up, depending on the closeness to Washington, D.C. Choice locations are also developed into neighborhoods of large houses starting at around $500,000, again depending on location and closeness to Washington. It is almost impossible and very rare to find a house for under $250,000 in Montgomery County.
Weather- In the summer, the east coast and the “Washington area” in particular is very hot, 90-100 degrees, and very humid, 70-90%. The official Heat Index in August on some days goes over 100 degrees, usually resulting in a half a dozen deaths of the elderly and sick due to the heat and high humidity and no air conditioning. At night this drops to an average of 75-80 degrees and 70% humidity. Winter in the “Washington area” varies from year to year, but usually drops to approximately 10-20 degrees. Some winters may get colder. Snow may consist of two or three storms of 3-6 inches each, or like in 2004 one massive dump of 24-26 inches in Washington, and up to 36 inches in Maryland. These massive storms result in widespread loss of power, stores being closed and everything coming to a dead halt for a couple of days.
Illegal Aliens (Spanish speaking) are everywhere. Cities and towns in Maryland and Virginia are even building job centers for them, so they can “wait out of the elements” and off the street locations where they congregate (it looks bad). The daily routine is that large and small contractors, yard service companies, and people in general looking for day laborers (Joe home owner digging a drainage ditch, building an addition to his house, etc.) drive up, tell what they want and what they are paying, pick out how many they want, load them up and drive off. Once you find someone you like working with, just have him report to your business. The women clean the homes, watch the children, and buy the groceries for the Yuppie (Young Urban Professional) families with both parents working. This happens because the under thirty crowd (Caucasian and black) for the most part, won’t do hard physical labor, so everybody wants the Spanish because they will work and need the money. A personal observation is that all the fast food places I frequent are 90% staffed by Spanish speakers. I took my brother to the hospital last year for outpatient surgery, and while I was waiting outside the hospital at 3:00 PM, they released nine new mothers with their babies. All were young and Spanish speaking. When I told friends of this later, they called them “Anchor Babies”, automatic American citizens, allowing the mothers to stay in America and access benefits. I saw a newspaper article on a congressman who tried to bring up a bill canceling the law about granting automatic citizenship to babies born to non U.S. citizens. No one in congress would support it and it never came up [for a vote].
In the past few years the larger bank chains, starting with Bank of America, are allowing illegal immigrants to open bank accounts using those Mexican Consulate ID cards as “Legal ID” to deposit payroll checks from companies and contractors. In case no one is aware, this is now normal business practice across America. The Internal Revenue Service then assigns them a “Taxpayer Identification Number” to process their taxes on income earned in America, even though they are not legal residents and do not have a social security number. I guess that’s why there haven’t been any arrests for nonpayment of taxes on income earned. The IRS’s position is that it is a revenue collecting agency, not a citizenship enforcement agency. The U.S. government just wants the money. Maryland is also one of a handful of states that will issue a driver’s license to an illegal immigrant (does not require proof of citizenship).
Politically, Maryland is predominately a Democrat state. The governor elected in 2002-2006, was a Republican (the first Republican in almost 40 years), but it was a very close race. One of the points he ran on was gun owner rights. He was elected and then didn’t say another word about guns for his four years, not that it would have mattered with the liberal Democratic state government. The new governor elected in 2006 is a Democrat who was the mayor of the city of Baltimore (very liberal, anti-gun).
This brings us to the subject of Maryland and guns. Maryland is anti-gun, period. In Boston T. Party’s book, “Boston’s Gun Bible”, 2002 edition, Maryland ranks 43rd out of 51 (50 states plus D.C.). In other words, it ranks as one of the 10 worst states for firearms ownership in America. Maryland’s stance on guns is basically that there are too many deaths by guns (high crime and needless accidents [children]) therefore get rid of the guns and violent crime will go down, regardless of the fact that this has been proven false over and over again. Also, law abiding citizens shouldn’t have a need for a gun. The state of Maryland has a very, very restrictive “Concealed Carry Weapon” law administered by the state police (in other words, No Way). Under the Concealed Carry Weapon Law, the state police use the requirement of having a “good and substantial reason” as a justification to deny issue of a permit. Maryland law states that all private firearms sales (resident to resident) of “regulated firearms” (pistols and assault rifles), must be processed through either an FFL dealer or the Maryland State Police in person. As the buyer, you have to fill out the same paperwork as when buying a new firearm and wait 7 days for approval or disapproval by the state police before you can take possession. And before I forget, “A person may not manufacture, sell, offer for sale, purchase, receive, or transfer a detachable magazine that has a capacity of more than 20 rounds of ammunition for a firearm.” Maryland Criminal Law Code § 4-305(b)
Montgomery County, Maryland tried to pass a law in 2001 banning “Public money” to “any organization that allows the display and sale of guns” on its property, in this case to prevent the “Montgomery County Fairgrounds” from hosting a Gun Show. It went to court and was later overturned but the county promised to rewrite it and try again later. Maryland was watching and supporting the effort from the sidelines. As a result, gun shows no longer come to Montgomery County.
Yes, there are pro-gun and hunting organizations in the state and they are fighting for the cause. But from what I see, the pro-gun groups struggle to muster enough support to fight each battle when the state quietly slips a legislation “clarification” into the legislative process. They are slowly losing the war due to being outnumbered. Most of Maryland has grown into a bunch of young professional office workers and non-hunting people, who are only interested in buying an expensive house and living the good life while they can. These vastly out number the blue collar workers that are still left and are being pushed further outward from the nation’s capital because they can no longer afford to live in the “affluent” counties anymore.
Where to live in Maryland if you didn’t have to work in the District of Columbia (D.C.)? I see only two areas. 1) The north-central part of the state, around the towns of Fredrick (close to a possible nuclear target), Hagerstown (hilly) and Westminster, all of which are growing fast population wise. 2) Western Maryland around Cumberland, which like I said in the beginning is mountainous, very hilly and fairly remote from the rest of the state. You are however close to parts of Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The eastern shore (east side of the Chesapeake Bay) would be good however the ability to get in and out is severely restricted as there is only one land route and two bridges to get to that side of the state. The land route is in the far north by Delaware and the two bridges are at Annapolis in the middle and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the far south into Virginia. The bridges become jammed with bumper to bumper traffic every summer as everyone travels to and from the seashore. In a crisis situation such as the very rare occasion when a hurricane makes it this far north, the two bridges come to complete stand still as everyone tries to leave and accidents occur by panicky drivers.
My call for nuclear targets: 1) Washington, D.C. area (several bombs, over lapping the surrounding counties including Montgomery County), 2) Camp David, Maryland, presidential retreat (north of Fredrick, outside Thurmont, Maryland, near the Pennsylvania line) and 3) Baltimore (major U.S. seaport). There are also a couple of minor military bases in the state, Andrews Air Force Base (Air Force One and some cargo planes), Aberdeen Proving Grounds (large test facility), and the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Of course on any fallout pattern map I’ve seen, Maryland is downwind of everything else in the United States, so being a target is not really the problem here.
These are only my personal observations of the state I grew up in, left to serve in the Army for twenty four years and came back to. The state is very crowded, very expensive, and most people are of the mind set to just give the government any power it asks for and it will take care of everything. For the most part they don’t understand or even care one bit about the increasing loss of their freedoms or the Second Amendment. And yes, I am looking into moving. – Al in Maryland
JWR Adds: If I was forced by work or family circumstances to live near Washington, D.C., then I would be more inclined to live in rural Virginia than I would anywhere in Maryland. (Mainly because of Virginia’s more favorable tax and gun laws.) Although it is a long commute to the DC Beltway, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia may be worth considering.