OSD 119: I’m not a LARPer, I’m just ahead of the curve

Today’s LARPer is tomorrow’s trendsetter.

Last week, Dakota Meyer got into a bit of a controversy with an Instagram post criticizing people for going to the range in full kit. The details of that particular kerfuffle aren’t terribly unique; it was an illustrative flare-up of an evergreen argument: is body armor LARPing? Is night vision LARPing? And for that matter, is LARPing bad?

There are two things going on here.

The first is the easiest to agree on: there is a small subset of people who use fancy gear to make it seem like they have skills they don’t have, or to wink at some nonexistent military experience of theirs. Pretty much everybody would cosign a criticism of that.

The second is trickier. It’s easy to make fun of an office worker who hits the range on the weekend with plates, NVGs, a radio, the whole deal. They have no immediate use for that gear, it’s expensive overkill, their skills lag their purchases, and it’s unusual. A tidy recipe for being mocked by the majority. But some perspective would be helpful here.

We think of LARPing as being defined by the gear someone’s using. In reality, it’s defined by the calendar. In the ‘70s, rocking an Aimpoint or a flashlight would have been LARPing. In the ‘60s, firing a pistol two-handed was LARPing. In the ‘20s, a semi-auto rifle was LARPing.

Choose any point in time, and it turns out that the LARPers were actually something different: early adopters. Why would today be any different? Of course, some trends are going to seem silly in hindsight. The 10mm and visible laser aiming devices didn’t pan out either. But that’s a feature, not a bug. It’s how innovation works. New stuff comes out all the time, and early adopters try everything to figure out what’s good. Then the rest of us pile onto the good stuff. The process doesn’t work without early adopters — without LARPers — because by definition, you don’t know ahead of time what’s good and what’s not. At the beginning, it all looks silly. So if you want to create anything new, you need people who don’t mind looking silly.

This also has implications for gun rights: innovation goes hand-in-hand with normalization. Glocks, for example, are ubiquitous today despite seeming new and scary in the ‘80s. That started with the innovation of creating the design. Early adopters liked that innovation, which led to the gun being used. And use led to normalization. Everything from red dot sights to PMAGs to the thumbs-forward grip can thank that same process for its success.

Body armor and NVGs are on the vanguard today. In a few years, they’ll either be ubiquitous or they’ll be replaced by something better. And early adopters are putting in the work to figure out which it should be. That’s praiseworthy.


This week’s links

Hop of TFB reviews the Trijicon MRO

He does not like it.

Conan O’Brien and Hunter S. Thompson shoot guns

Classic Conan remote from 1997.

David Kopel on the Supreme Court’s upcoming Second Amendment case

A long, detailed interview about NYSRPA v. Corlett and the current landscape of 2A litigation.

The police in Suffolk County, NY are confiscating legal firearms

As New York law is currently written, “others” — i.e. a non-pistol/non-rifle firearm, typically an AR with a pistol brace and a vertical foregrip and an overall length over 26” — are legal. FFLs in the state have been selling them for a while. The Suffolk County PD appears to have unilaterally decided that the guns are in fact illegal, and instead of adjudicating the issue is summarily confiscating them.

The most charitable explanation is that this is a genuine misunderstanding of the law on the part of Suffolk PD. It’s common for police to be earnestly incorrect about the law. But that is a strong and under-appreciated argument against registration: it dramatically increases the blast radius of police mistakes, often in irreparable ways. (And if/when the misbehavior is not a mistake, buckle up.)


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