OSD 60: Guns, viruses, and how ideas spread

Or: Guns, germs, and steal

Our new essay just went up: “Guns are a virus. But not in the way people think.” Everybody’s had their fill of virus talk these past few weeks, so this was an opportunity to pivot that discussion into something new: the epidemiological approach to guns focuses on harms and how they spread through society. We wrote a while ago about the begging-the-question error in that, but what if, in the spirit of learning about viruses, we leaned into it?

The essay dives deep on viruses, memes, animated charts of outbreaks, and how getting up to speed on this will help you spread the ideas you want to spread. It’s a long read at right around 20 minutes, but lays out a framework that we can all run with for a long, long time. Enjoy.


This week’s links

OSD cofounder Chuck Rossi on the TFB Behind the Gun podcast

Great conversation, check it out!

The classic 1996 ATF letter where they classified a shoe string with loops on it as a machine gun

The best part is on page two: “Since we are unable to establish that the submitted sample [shoe string] was manufactured and transferred in accordance with the provisions of the NFA and § 922(o), we are unable to return it to you, as submitted. However, we can return your shoe string without the loops.”

ATF authorizes gun shops to operate as drive-thrus in order to maintain COVID-related distancing

No fries, sorry.

What is Gun Culture 2.0?

Good overview from sociology professor David Yamane.

How Oakland cut homicides in half

This is a good piece from Giffords (! — credit where it’s due) about proven methods of reducing violence. And those methods don’t include gun control laws. Instead, they focus on root causes. A key passage: “The accepted view among community members, law enforcement, and city leaders was that violence was driven by large numbers of young people engaged in conflicts over drugs. But when the city conducted an in-depth problem analysis with the help of California Partnership for Safe Communities, the data told a different story. Just 400 individuals—less than 0.1 percent of the city’s population—were responsible for the vast majority of shootings, and those shootings were highly concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods.”

Investigations by Vice: Gun Culture 2.0

It’s not uniformly level-headed, but this piece by Vice on Hulu is worth watching. They’ve got an interview with the excellent John Correia of Active Self Protection, among others, and it’s worth your time to see the good, bad, and ugly of how the community is portrayed on mainstream-ish platforms.

What’s inside an enhanced SAPI plate?

This dissection seems like it’s going to be boring, but becomes oddly interesting as the guy starts peeling layers off the plate.

He says he stabbed a student to defend his home. His home is a box.

Just discovered this story from back in January. A man sleeping in a cardboard box on a sidewalk in New York City has been charged with assault after stabbing a passerby who kicked the box. The details of the incident — who menaced whom, was the kicker trying to de-engage when he was stabbed, etc. — are in dispute. But the relevant part is that the defendant is invoking New York’s castle doctrine in his defense. It’s an unconventional application of that defense, so one to watch for updates.

Thorneycroft to SA80: British Bullpup Firearms, 1901–2020

Following up on Chassepot to FAMAS (the second-most-funded publishing project in Kickstarter history), Ian McCollum is back as the publisher of a lovely new book project. The Kickstarter launched a few days ago and is already over $267,000, well beyond the $25,000 goal. A nice existence proof of something we like to harp on: the demand is out there for awesome, top-quality gun culture.


If you’re a new gun owner, thinking about becoming one, or know someone who is, click here to come to OSD Office Hours. You get a 30-minute video call with an OSD team member to ask any and all questions you have, in a friendly, non-judgmental space. For free. We just want to help people become great gun owners. So come on by!


If you like this newsletter, you can donate to OSD instantly on our Buy Me a Coffee page. Donations aren’t our biggest funding mechanism, but they are a dead-simple way to kick in a few bucks to help us keep growing like crazy.