"You have to consider that we've had a lot of changes in New Hampshire," says Weed. "The majority party now believes that government has some important functions for the people. [The FSP's] attempt to take over the state is naive — most people here feel there's a social conscience that goes along with tax paying."
FSP recruitment has been difficult, as Free Staters were largely ignored in their first few years — even by the local Sentinel newspaper — and only began to grab major headlines a few months before Kostric's gun show. In May, the group was mentioned on a Fox News Freedom Watch podcast; that same month, members were profiled in a prominent Boston Globe feature. Those spotlights — as well as recent Sentinel reports on the arrests of several members — were relatively positive, and the Free Staters I spoke with appreciate the coverage, despite occasional misrepresentations (the Globe profile, for example, implies there have been collective acts of civil disobedience — a major faux pas in the eyes of such proud individualists).
As for Kostric, Free Staters agree on a "no harm, no foul" defense; like he told freekeene.com moments after his duel with Chris Matthews, there could not have been a better way to advertise his ideology.
"You need to sometimes present a more extreme viewpoint to pull people halfway between where they are and where you'd like them to move," said Kostric. "Hopefully it shocked some people into opening their eyes. I would have liked to have seen 100 open carriers standing on the front lawn of that church — that would have given the media something to really notice. Look at what just one person did."
Chris Faraone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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