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There's a perennial proposal in Area 51 (current incarnation is called The Armory) that's essentially half on-topic here, and half off-topic. A firearms SE actually made it to beta some years ago before being closed due to some sort of neglect that I haven't fully divined.

Since TGO isn't exactly setting the world on fire with activity, why not expand its scope to fully and explicitly encompass the latest Armory proposal? Namely:

Q&A site for shooting sports and weapons, including but not limited to guns, knives, and other arms; and ranging from theory and design to practical tactics, legal questions, and consumer considerations

It's sort of awkward right now that, for example, questions about weapons for hunting or sport shooting are (I assume) on-topic but questions relating to weapons for tactical or defensive purposes are not ... unless the defense is explicitly against an outdoor non-human predator? I can't even tell how abstract and technical questions regarding weapons should be received at present.

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    (Note on downvoting on meta) – gerrit May 19 '16 at 18:28
  • Related meta question: meta.outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/768/… – feetwet May 19 '16 at 18:31
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    I'll do this as a comment, as it is very much opinion and hardly an answer: Weapons outside of sport, hunting and government agencies is an extremely sensitive issue. I personally am of the opinion to get rid of such completely, but then there is those who defend personal weapon ownership fiercely for self defense/independence. I cannot imagine any questions outside of sports, hunting and related pure technical questions to be non-political/opinion based/heavily disputed. So all that is already on topic is fine, anything else is something I personally (!) would rather not have on TGO. – imsodin May 23 '16 at 7:39
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    I might be wrong but once merged and their users ask only in here the few questions that are on-topic now we wouldnt add many questions and they would lose the users that ask the bulk of questions which are unrelated to TGO. I dont see the benefit for them. If, instead, the scope of TGO is expanded to cover non-outdoor questions regarding this subject wouldnt that be a slippery slope? (In comments "robbers" are lumped with bears and wolves, if gunning down a robber becomes on-topic then why not martial arts for self-defense against said robber? Boatbulding because canoeing is allowed? etc etc) – Erik vanDoren May 25 '16 at 15:46
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    Just wondering, independently from the position of TGO on the subject, how many of the users of The Armory want to see it becoming part of TGO? – Erik vanDoren May 25 '16 at 16:28
  • @ErikvanDoren - I think the answer to your various questions is it is a slippery slope! These are things that slide into place (or don't). To the extent a site (or proposal) has a "community" that community may object to the disruption created by an explicit expansion of scope. Would an invitation to "the armory people" to participate on TGO disrupt TGO? My inclination is "give it a shot." Will "armory" people be happy without their own special site? They'd prefer one, but at least some will be content here. The problem both scopes have is a lack of critical mass; this addresses that. – feetwet May 25 '16 at 16:41
  • I second @imsodin. – Ricketyship May 2 '18 at 17:21
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Update March 2018

The Armory Proposal failed to launch, but there is a new proposal Weapons which currently has 73% of the required support for commitment phase. Currently it looks likely to full fill commitment requirements.

Many of the top voted example questions are clearly out of scope for TGO (i.e. atomic bombs). Should it reach beta launch, it will not be a duplicate of TGO. Much like Bicycles we can expect there will be questions that can work on either site.

Update April 2018 With the weapons proposal well on it's way to launch within the prescribed parameters, the parameters where changed and the proposal was closed.

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I think firearms per se should have their own place on SE, separate from TGO.

This seems like an effort to boost the firearms SE and finally give it its own proper place. While I think this is a good thing, I don't think TGO should be that place.

To quote from this answer:

Overlap has never been considered a problem for SE sites, it's the target audience that's the most important factor as far as I know.

In my opinion the outdoors and firearms community really don't have very much to offer each other. Yes, there is some small overlap in hunting and archery. But there are also huge areas (respectively) which have absolutely nothing in common.

I think merging the two communities could result in a lot of frustration because users would essentially have to filter through a lot more unrelated content to get to the things they want.

To end with a personal note: In my very anecdotal experience the overlap between outdoors and firearms communities can be really small, at least where I'm from (Switzerland). I know tons of hikers, trekkers, climbers, bikers, kayakers, campers, ... - almost none of them have any interest in firearms or ever held one in their life, nor do they ever want to.

  • Isn't military training, including training with rifles, mandatory for most Swiss men? – feetwet Jun 15 '16 at 15:48
  • You're right, de jure it is "mandatory". But it's very easy to be declared unfit for duty (if you don't want to do it) and you can choose to do civil service duty instead (takes 1.5x longer) where you'll help out in hospitals, retirement homes, kindergardens or for example environmental work in the alpine regions. So base line, not a lot of swiss men still to the military service (maye 25% is my guess). – fgysin Jun 16 '16 at 7:02
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I think firearms and similar weapons as such should remain off-topic on The Great Outdoors.

Firearms are a politicised, contentious, controversial issue and it may be better for both communities if firearm enthusiasts are cordoned off on their own site. We don't want to alienate people.

A lot of firearm enthusiasm has little to do with The Great Outdoors. Out of the top-10 questions, only one is outdoor-related, and indeed has been asked, and is not even about a firearm.

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    I'm not sure we should avoid "contentious, controversial issues". Isn't this a good place to gain some sanity on these issues? Obviously anything that's opinion based (and therefore can't be argued as fact) is off topic anyway so this negates a lot of the problems don't you think? – user2766 May 20 '16 at 7:47
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    I don't have a closed mind on this Q, but I tend to agree with @gerrit. I've looked at the sample Qs and maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of them are hunting Qs (didn't do an actual count.) Some of the others could be made to sound like hunting Qs. But there is a core that is clearly not hunting (see my comment under Rory's A. Thus, an important part of what the Armory wants to be might be off topic here: how would that solve the Armory's problem? Negotiation on specifically what would and would not be on topic here is needed before a merge. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow May 20 '16 at 13:13
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    I think a big part of what the Armory wants to be, and is out of scope here, fits into an area that includes experts of mostly people who prefer not be members of a SE site. There have been multiple extensive attempts to gather those groups and they just don't come to SE to participate. – James Jenkins May 20 '16 at 17:13
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    Many many things to do with the outdoors are contentious. I've seen arguments here over land use, LNT, and other topics so firearms is hardly the only source of contention. The fact is that any group of people passionate on a topic will have it's moments of heat and contention. It is up to us as a community to keep that from damaging our forum. – Russell Steen May 22 '16 at 17:15
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I think this should broadly be on topic already, but as gerrit says, we would exclude the politics of weapon ownership to focus on the use and practice, similar to the ones we have now, and the bow, crossbow and archery questions.

So yes, this has my support, especially as that proposal on A51 is the fourth attempt to raise a separate community on this topic.

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    The proposal says "....legal questions and consumer consideration." How can this not include the politics of weapon ownership? – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow May 20 '16 at 1:15
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    ab2 - legal questions would not be on topic anyway, so that bit can be ignored straight off. No idea what consumer consideration means, but my point still stands - exclude the politics, same as we do now. – Rory Alsop May 20 '16 at 7:14
  • @ab2 - Just have a look at the definition questions. Not listed, but perhaps an example of both a legal and consumer question that would (I imagine) clearly be on-topic, "What should I carry for defense against brown bears while hiking in Alaska, and under what circumstances am I allowed to use it?" – feetwet May 20 '16 at 11:46
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    @feetwet That Q is a hunting question, and similar ones have appeared on TGO. Some of the others are also hunting questions. But "What are the procedures in [state/country] for obtaining a fully automatic weapon legally?"///" My mom is too weak to rack the slide on autoloaders...."//What things should I consider when choosing a firearm for personal protection? "//"What is the proper way to hold a revolver for enhanced accuracy?"//"How should I handle safety issues with other shooters when they are being careless at a firing range?"(Indoors ?) and so on. I am not rabidly anti-gun, but..... – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow May 20 '16 at 12:55
  • I think there was a question here on bow or crossbow strength / pull, which is equivalent to the "too weak to rack the slide" question. – Rory Alsop May 20 '16 at 13:44
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    "we would exclude the politics of weapon ownership to focus on the use and practice" - Yes please. – Russell Steen May 22 '16 at 17:12
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Many outdoor type pursuits and professions have a strong association with guns and shooting. For example is on topic. It's hard to talk about hunting (in certain countries and of certain animals at least) without talking about guns. So excluding it seems silly.

Also, shooting as a sport is ingrained into many outdoor professions (i.e. game keepers, etc).

It's also something that happens outdoors (little o). Though not all outdoor pursuits are Outdoor (upper case O) pursuits this one seems to fit to me.

So (as Rory says) I think shooting is already implicitly in scope of TGO.

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I want to get a first draft of an answer on the board. It is a complex question, and I will probably want to edit the answer after more thought.

First, my mind is not closed on the question of the Armory migrating to TGO. Hunting and archery are on-topic in TGO. I just checked the Armory site (05/20/16 at 13:45 EDT); it had 84 question, of which 11 were archery and 2 explicitly hunting. Others were technical questions that could have been motivated by hunting. I'll do a more careful count later.

I'm not happy about self-defense gun questions on TGO -- that is, self defense against humans. We've already had a few questions along the lines of "my friend's mother wants him to take a gun on the Appalachian trail; it this a good idea?" That question -- or rather, the mother -- was silly (the gun in question was a 25 caliber), but on topic. But questions about self defense in the home, at the shopping mall and at restaurants? (1) How is this Outdoors? and (2) how can this not quickly become political?

Thus my recommendation is: What's on-topic and what's off topic need to be better defined. I don't think it is enough to say just "not political".

As for the comment that we not avoid "contentious, controversial issues", we are not going to go far in introducing sanity into the 2nd Amendment debate. I urge that if we want to embrace controversial issues, we expand our environmental scope beyond Leave No Trace. As for the comment that "crossbow strength / pull .... is equivalent to the "too weak to rack the slide" question, I respect the person who made the comment, but c'mon!.

  • Why do you think it's not sufficient to say, "This isn't Politics?" We do that frequently over at Law when a post veers into that realm, and we've never had a problem nipping it in the bud. I.e., people don't seem to have a hard time understanding when a question is asking for a political debate, or when a comment or answer has turned it into one. – feetwet May 20 '16 at 18:03
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    I think any question on self-defense against humans, particularly when the venue is home or school or movie theaters or other places where the public congregates will turn political. Moreover, it isn't about the Outdoors. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow May 20 '16 at 18:10
  • I'm having a hard time thinking of a question particular to a venue that would not be off-topic as political/legal. The perennial "What's the smallest acceptable caliber" debate could just as well apply to hunting or defense against highwaymen. What about "tactics against highwaymen?" That's an outdoor problem. And "defense in my home" could just as easily be against the large non-human animal that occasionally crashes through a cabin door as the human predator that does. "Predator defense," without discriminating against humans, seems fundamentally on-topic. – feetwet May 20 '16 at 18:19
  • Defense against highwaymen was a great topic in the 18th century. Not anywhere near the top of most people's list today. I'm trying to find a solution to the question. As for defense against large non-human predators crashing through the door of a cabin, yes, that would be on topic, if stated as such. Is that what the self-defense questions on the Armory are about? – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow May 20 '16 at 18:36
  • It sounds like you might be arguing about the spirit of the question rather than the substance. Which is fine if that's your intention. (But if it is, I would suggest you revisit the OP, which suggests that the site be expanded in spirit whenever possible.) Just make it clear: Are you saying, "Defense against predators is on-topic if the predators aren't human?" Or, "Defense against predators is on-topic if the implied scenario could be outdoors or in the wilderness?" Or can it just be, "Defense against predators is on-topic, but politics are not?" – feetwet May 20 '16 at 18:50
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    @feetwet, I dont think its much a matter of just spirit: defending myself from the polar bear that is trying to come through the door and defending myself from some guy trying to break in my house would have substantially different answers. The situation and consequences are completely different, one definitely doesnt belong in here and even the one related to the polar bear is somewhat at the limit. (BTW I have nothing against such "tools", for sport or work Ive been around them all my life, but a big part of that subject has nothing to do with the outdoors) – Erik vanDoren May 25 '16 at 15:00
  • @ErikvanDoren - I agree that legally & morally the situation and consequences of defense against a human vs. another animal are different. But since those lines of inquiry are off-topic, all that's left (if anything) would be answerable technical questions. So, for example, "Too weak to rack the slide" is an answerable technical problem. "What should I carry for defense on the trail or in my cabin against bears, wolves, or robbers" ... I could provide a politically neutral, technical answer to that. And I imagine that would be just about the on-topic limit of this line of questioning. – feetwet May 25 '16 at 15:05
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    @feetwet, i mean technical details too. The "tool" and action for selfdefence is dependant on the behaviour, motives and intentions of the "intruder". You can give a long competent answer that covers every aspect of the selfdefence but too much of it would be completely removed from the subject of "the outdoors". Similarly, TheArmory would include a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with the outdoors, thus limiting their scope, expanding TGO to accomodate them would be changing its nature. (and Im not talking about the politics) – Erik vanDoren May 25 '16 at 17:04
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    I totally agree. I don't think advice on tactical considerations in urban warfare should be on topic here. I think we should embrace the aspects of shooting and firearms that are relevant to the outdoors, but the aspects strictly related to tactics between armed two legged predators are most likely off topic even though I would enjoy reading a SE site like that. – Erik May 28 '16 at 16:50

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