OSD 73: Every bit of friction counts

Get out the Ballistol.

Here’s an excerpt from an article that a redditor posted to our subreddit this week:

New applications for handgun permits in Indiana have increased ten times over their 2019 levels since lawmakers eliminated the fees for a five-year permit on July 1, according to the Indiana State Police.

“With the fee change, we’re seeing a huge uptick in the number of people trying to access our system”, ISP First Sgt. Ron Galaviz said.

State Police received 2,259 handgun permit applications from July 1-7 last year compared to 20,647 in 2020.

On July 1 alone, the day the fees were eliminated, Galaviz said the state received about 8,000 gun permit applications.

What had the fee been before they eliminated it? $40.

There isn’t clean logic to explain this. Yes, $40 is more than $0. But if someone’s getting a carry gun, holster, ammo, and so on, a priori someone who’s not dialed into these issues might think, “That fee is what, maybe an 8% increase in the total cost of carrying a gun? Seems harmless enough, it’s common sense to impose that to cover costs.” And the tricky part is that it’s not obvious that they’re wrong — on paper, you wouldn’t expect a $40 fee to change people’s behavior when they’re spending hundreds on something important.

But empirically, it does. A lot. On the very day that the fee was eliminated, July 1, the state received four times as many carry permit applications as they received in the entire week of July 1-7 last year. In other words, on the day the fees went away, there was a 28x spike in applications.

The underlying dynamic here is the same thing that explains why tech companies spend millions (or billions) on software engineers to shave milliseconds off of page load times. It’s why rival gas stations bother trying to beat each other by 1¢ per gallon. It’s why hotels mostly stopped charging for wifi.

Little bits of friction add up. Every open question, every dollar, every uncertainty, each one flips a few more people into, “Eh, forget it, I’ll do something else.” The deceptive thing about strong ideas is that no matter how strong they look today, they all started out weak. Every one of you with 50 guns in a walk-in vault started out as some curious kid wondering what a primer is or what’s inside a magazine. Your heartfelt ideas started out as wispy curiosity. And at that stage, it’s incredibly easy to kill.

This sounds like bad news. Newbies can be turned into never-will-be’s by a measly $40 hurdle. Let alone by the months-long permit processes or the scary gotchas in states like New Jersey, California, and New York.

But that lever works both ways — seemingly tiny positive changes can have disproportionately big effects. And to beat a drum that we like to pick up frequently around here, this is where the nature of the internet puts a thumb on the scale for gun rights. Every fun YouTube video about guns takes a tiny bit of friction out of the system, makes a few more newbies. Every helpful tweet, every time you take a friend shooting or answer some questions.

Keep smoothing the friction out of gun ownership everywhere you see it. You’ll be surprised how much it helps.

This week’s links

Jim’s Goon Life

Been digging this YouTube channel.

No, it doesn’t take Glock mags … and sometimes that’s better

Ian McCollum on the pros and cons of the double column, single feed magazine.

Essence magazine covering black open carry

Cool to see the conversation changing here — until very recently, a largely positive article like this would have been rare to see in a mainstream source.

The vindication of the AR-15’s forward assist

Just in case you want to start an argument among your gun friends, here’s a 43-minute video about why the forward assist is actually good 😉

Heirs of the revolution

We like to post this every so often. This video from SilencerCo is what it’s all about. Just what you need to get the week started right.

OSD Office Hours

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