OSD 70: The effect of affect

The Sun is a runaway chain reaction. Be sunny.

This week we’re going to be a little academic. (Big surprise, right? 😉)

You’ll notice that a lot of the links in this week’s newsletter are about the shifting public image of gun rights. The narrative about the old stereotypes is falling apart in front of us. We wrote an essay a couple weeks ago on this (“Everybody agrees on guns, and they just realized it”), and also had a piece last year about long-term trends that show — contrary to what people on all sides think — gun rights are getting more popular over time, especially among young people.

The progress this year is strange. On the one hand, yes, sure, the argument for gun rights was livestreamed 24/7 for weeks on end. But on the other hand, these aren’t new arguments. It’s been the same point for decades. People just magically started agreeing one day. Why?

There’s a psychological effect called “the affect heuristic” that explains this:

The affect heuristic is a heuristic, a mental shortcut that allows people to make decisions and solve problems quickly and efficiently, in which current emotion—fear, pleasure, surprise, etc.—influences decisions. In other words, it is a type of heuristic in which emotional response, or “affect” in psychological terms, plays a lead role. It is a subconscious process that shortens the decision-making process and allows people to function without having to complete an extensive search for information…. If their feelings towards an activity are positive, then people are more likely to judge the risks as low and the benefits high. On the other hand, if their feelings towards an activity are negative, they are more likely to perceive the risks as high and benefits low.

In other words: people are busy, and they don’t have time to learn the details of your issue. They’re going to decide how they feel about you, and that is going to determine what they think of your viewpoint. So if they don’t like you, then your argument — great though it may be — literally doesn’t matter. Before people actually hear your argument, they have to like you.

The thing that changed is that people started realizing, “Hey, a lot of the people I like are into gun rights…” So the takeaway is simple: be likable, come out as a gun owner, and then make more gun owners. Email us or ping us on Instagram or Twitter with stories on how it goes. Make it a great week, gang.

This week’s links

The “NRA for black people” wants to get political

Nice 8-minute feature on our friends at NAAGA, the National African American Gun Association.

How to sell a bulk order of shotguns to Teddy Roosevelt

Just start blasting.

Black gun owners plan pro-Second Amendment walk

Check out the overwhelmingly pro-gun-rights comments in this post on a mainstream subreddit. The tide is turning.

The reality of knife attack

A quick video from a self-defense instructor on how these attacks work in real life, outside the gym. Pretty eye-opening.

A man protecting businesses during protests makes a connection with a protestor

Cool story about what happens when you talk to people open-mindedly.

Shooting a competition with an M249

Our spirit animal.


A newish Instagram account we’ve been liking, run by two Asian female gun enthusiasts. Growing the circle 💪


We have a merch store. There are nice and subtle t-shirts, a hat, and some archival gallery-quality gun art for your walls. It’s good stuff.

Get OSD merch

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