OSD 255: Quicker than you think
With every exponential adoption curve, there's an exponential abandonment curve.
We talk about paradigm shifts a lot here. Some favorite examples:
In some products (e.g. AR-15s) and social aspects (e.g. the concealed carry revolution) of gun culture you can see the same forces that (a) drive tech adoption generally and (b) have been making those adoption curves steeper over time. Like these:
What we haven’t talked about much is that every time there’s some new idea with an exponential adoption curve, there’s a corresponding old idea with an exponential abandonment curve. @auchenberg captures that nicely below. You’ve seen how fast cars were adopted, but the corollary is that horses were abandoned equally precipitously:
For a more salient example, here’s a chart of Blackberry’s stock price from one year before the iPhone was announced until seven years after the announcement:
This is what’s dangerous about exponential abandonment curves. They start slow, so by the time you realize anything is wrong, it’s far too late. By early 2012, when Blackberry’s demise was obvious, it had already been dead for five years. It just didn’t know it. To Blackberry’s executives, the two years after the iPhone announcement seemed for all the world to be going great.
There’s a strong case that the gun control movement is right now in a similar Wile E. Coyote mid-air run, having running off the cliff but not yet looked down. (OSD in 2019: “Gun rights are winning and nobody has realized it.”)
Lest gun rights folks get too smug about that, nobody is immune to this. Wayne LaPierre resigned as head of the NRA this week, years after everyone in the modern gun rights movement knew he had led the NRA into irrelevance. Even among modern gun influencers, staleness can set in over time. (We discussed that a few weeks ago, in “OSD 249: The Eras Tour”.)
Think about it like the light bulbs at Disneyland: the right time to replace them is before they burn out. If it’s obvious that it’s broken, you’re already late.
Happy 2024, stay fresh.
This week’s links
OSD SHOT Show party
We’re having a get-together in Vegas on Wednesday of SHOT week. A bunch of you already RSVPed, and this is a reminder for folks who missed it the first time. Reply to this email to RSVP. See you there.
From The Reload. Paywalled, but this is a publication worth subscribing to if you’re interested in just-the-facts-ma’am journalism that’s actually knowledgable on guns.
But LaPierre’s resignation ensures that the NRA will need a new leader regardless of the outcome of the trial. Even if the NRA prevails in the New York corruption case, the Board will have to decide on a new executive vice president. Without LaPierre as an option, it’s unclear where they will go.
It’s more likely than ever before that LaPierre’s staunchest allies will lose control of the organization. The last five years have been a disaster for the organization. It has lost over a million members, revenue has fallen by more than half, and spending on political efforts as well as member services has been hollowed out.“
Sheridan was an actor who transitioned to screenwriting at age 40. The first three scripts he wrote were Sicario, Hell or High Water, and Wind River. He has since created Yellowstone and all of its spinoff series. There’s nothing exactly gun-culture-related in this interview, but Sheridan’s work is the best out there today that authentically reflects those perspectives.
Thanks to our Discord user @cbrumbaugh for finding this paper in the NYU Law Review.
The overall premise:
The nation’s gun laws are on a collision course with the practice and law of policing.
Later in the piece:
For a long while, when it came to guns, the courts were aligned with the police. Supreme Court decisions generally approved at wholesale the sorts of actions police could take, both to protect themselves and to get guns off the streets. Those decisions effectively provided “scripts” to officers, so they could articulate the right things to get courts to sign off on their actions in individual cases.
As state legislatures have moved in the direction of legalizing guns in public, courts are being forced to confront the changing landscape. The permission slips that guns once provided to policing are being rescinded, or altered in significant ways. In some areas, the new judicial doctrine is relatively clear; in others it is shifting and deeply uncertain. What those decisions manifest — as this Part and the following one make clear — is a growing tension between the Supreme Court’s love of police and their former (but now shifting) dislike of guns.
When the movement to legalize guns began to bear fruit, it is not clear that anyone — including legislators or judges — was thinking through how it would affect policing. As the developing body of doctrine makes clear, though, it plainly is making its mark.
One of the most stunning developments in the doctrine has been to pry apart the dual nature of guns, separating unlawfulness from danger. Guns could be either, or both. But the two do not necessarily travel together anymore. Nowhere is the impact of that simple but significant fact more evident than in the emerging doctrine of Terry v. Ohio, or stop and frisk, often seen as one of the principal tools in the police arsenal. We focus there, then summarize other doctrines that have involved the gun’s role as a permission slip.
The authors write from a perspective much more interested in police operations than in individual rights, but it’s useful to see how police departments view gun carry.
Our previous writing on this topic:
OSD Discord server
If you like this newsletter and want to talk live with the people behind it, join the Discord server. The OSD team is there along with tons of readers. See you there.
Gun apparel you’ll want to wear out of the house.
Thanks for reading Open Source Defense. Subscribe to get a new post every Monday.