OSD 252: G.K. Chesterton the gun influencer
The more things stay the same, the more they have to change.
We’ve been talking the past few weeks about gun influencers. OSD 249 broke down the history of the space from the late 19th century through the present into a few distinct eras. Then OSD 250 and 251 tracked how and why influencers have carved out increasingly specialized niches over time.
Let’s keep going on that this week.
Twice again, therefore, Christianity had come in with the exact answer that I required. I had said, "The ideal must be fixed," and the Church had answered, “Mine is literally fixed, for it existed before anything else.” I said secondly, “It must be artistically combined, like a picture”; and the Church answered, “Mine is quite literally a picture, for I know who painted it.” Then I went on to the third thing, which, as it seemed to me, was needed for an Utopia or goal of progress. And of all the three it is infinitely the hardest to express. Perhaps it might be put thus: that we need watchfulness even in Utopia, lest we fall from Utopia as we fell from Eden.
We have remarked that one reason offered for being a progressive is that things naturally tend to grow better. But the only real reason for being a progressive is that things naturally tend to grow worse. The corruption in things is not only the best argument for being progressive; it is also the only argument against being conservative. The conservative theory would really be quite sweeping and unanswerable if it were not for this one fact. But all conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post. But this which is true even of inanimate things is in a quite special and terrible sense true of all human things. An almost unnatural vigilance is really required of the citizen because of the horrible rapidity with which human institutions grow old.
This matches our observations about gun influencers these past few weeks. The content and the gear that is making the gun space vibrant today is that which is always being painted. The stuff that was cutting-edge in 2010 wouldn’t be able to compete today.
There’s a corollary to this: a space where things don’t get a fresh coat of paint is a space that is disintegrating. That’s a useful signal. If you’re in a stale space, action is required to prevent it from dying. That is not always obvious (and in fact insiders will actively fight it) because the damage of entropy takes time to show up. But that damage is a lagging indicator. The process of decay begins long before the rot actually appears. By the time it’s visible, it’s too late.
In “OSD 226: Chesterton’s fence”, we cited some advice from Chesterton on reform:
Back in 1929, in The Thing: Why I Am a Catholic, G.K. Chesterton introduced a decision-making principle that came to be known as Chesterton’s fence:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”
This is often interpreted as a defense of conservatism in the Edmund Burke sense: evolve institutions gradually. Don’t rip-and-replace, because they contain a lot of accumulated wisdom.
Chesterton’s point isn’t so hidebound. The parable of the fence isn’t an argument to fight progress, it’s an argument to seek knowledge. “Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.” I.e. tear up the old stuff, but only once you know what you’re talking about.
So that’s the argument for how to paint the post — don’t barrel into it, but build context and expertise. Then refresh the post, refresh your knowledge, and rinse and repeat.
This week’s links
Good YouTube channel takes a look at an underrated gun.
Good numbers-driven analysis.
If you are on social media or read some of the same blogs I do, then you might have seen talk about “ammo prices rising substantially in 2024”. Let’s dissect this and see if there is any merit to that claim…
The complaints were made possible thanks to a recently enacted state statute that allows the attorney general to sue gun industry members if he believes they “contribute to a public nuisance” by failing to maintain “reasonable controls” over the sale, manufacture, and marketing of firearms-related products….
Despite their popularity among gun-control advocates, the staying power of public nuisance laws like New Jersey’s faces a clear problem. The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) is a federal civil liability shield for the firearms industry. It explicitly precludes lawsuits against gun companies for the criminal misuse of their products by third parties.
Today in unintended consequences. Relevant to mental health gun prohibitions.
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Gun apparel you’ll want to wear out of the house.
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