OSD 39: Two views on being a new shooter

This week, two views on being a new shooter.

First this reddit post: Advice for a reluctant, but prospective liberal gun owner.

It's well worth a careful read. OP wants to buy a gun, but has some cognitive dissonance about that desire. Specifically: "I would like to purchase a semi-automatic rifle in a caliber where ammunition will always be plentiful, but with the goal to be in strict compliance with the CA laws on such weapons, which I wholeheartedly support. I would prefer to not purchase an AR-15 as I don't want to support that platform in any way, though I understand that this is really just a gesture. I am thinking something like the M14 or the classic M1 Garand as their stock magazine sizes are closer to the CA limit, but am very open to your advice."

In comment replies, he reiterates a few times that he doesn't want an AR for purely aesthetic reasons: "I just didn't want to associate myself with that particular firearm as it seems to be a symbol of conservative gun ownership." But he's simultaneously aware that his views are changing under his feet: "To be clear, I am here because my perspective is changing. I am reexamining my beliefs about civilian gun ownership for many of the reasons you laid out above. I wanted to be honest about where I am at and where I am coming from and I appreciate your understanding."

A number of comments flamed him, but most were supportive (while politely pointing out the cognitive dissonance). And that was good to see, because for a lot of people, this is what the beginning of gun ownership looks like. Tentative. Uncertain. Scary. Conflicting feelings.

That's a good thing! That is the feeling of your opinions changing. Let's encourage people who are in that headspace, and nudge them along in a friendly, supportive way. Because this guy feels ARs are an alt-right symbol today. But if he buys an M1 Garand and just gets out to the range, he's going to see a range full of ARs every time he goes. With normal, friendly, diverse people holding them. It's a safe bet that before long, he'll buy one himself. A lot of commenters on his thread say that that's exactly how they got into guns.

To repeat what has become a mantra here:

To spread gun rights, just make more gun owners.

Alrighty, that's that. The second view on being a new shooter is a lot shorter and a lot more data-driven. Some awesome data from a redditor about new shooter accuracy with handguns vs. ARs.

Useful to know if you take new shooters out to the range. (Which you should be doing all the time! 🙂)

You can even send it to your newbie to give them an idea of what to expect, if they're the data-curious type. (And of course, we also recommend that you make heavy use of the Take a Newbie Shooting guide on our site.)

Have a great week, everyone.



This week's links

C&Rsenal: To Blue or Not to Blue
If you're like me, you've heard the word "blue" in the gun-finish context a million times, and still have no real idea what it means. This video dives deep into the chemistry.

Guns: they're what happens when physics and chemistry want to party.


How the AK-74 Became a Fashion Statement
War College podcast episode about tacticool gucci gear trends — among Middle Eastern insurgents.


Historical Firearms on the Colt R0633, aka the DOE Colt
Speaking of gucci gear, this is a fun, quick history of this early 9mm M16-based submachine gun, created for Department of Energy (i.e. the euphemism for Department of Nukes) guards. Not much will get the good folks at /r/RetroAR (or us, for that matter) as fired up as a good 633 clone.


Two views on base rate neglect: a suicide prediction engine vs. NYT's Dealbook gun control event
The suicide piece is an interesting writeup from Quartz about researchers' efforts to predict suicide attempts in psychiatric patients. A worthy goal (and an improvement on a status quo where "even psychiatrists are little better than a coin toss at predicting suicide attempts"), but the article is careful to explain the downsides and the severe risks of false positives.

On the other end of the spectrum is NYT Dealbook's continuing effort to use their financial media platform to lobby banks into enacting gun control policies. (Andrew Ross Sorkin, who runs Dealbook, writes frequently on the subject, and a while ago we wrote about the startling innumeracy of his credit card surveillance proposal. tldr it's base rate neglect as far as the eye can see.)

Dealbook held an event last week where they brought together business leaders and activists to talk about gun control. Chris Cheng (among others) commendably and valiantly stepped in to represent the gun rights view at the event. Very difficult job, but thank you to Chris and the others for jumping into the fray.