TOM THE DANCING BUG: The Last Comic Strip About a Mass Shooting Tragedy You'll Ever Have to Read

I’m happy to hear you take responsible precautions with your firearms, but people in your particular situation aren’t the problem. The problem is that the laws which allow people like you to (for example) buy an AR-15 also make it easy for people like Adam Lanza to get their hands on an AR-15. Just as laws which would allow responsible people like you or me to freely buy dynamite would also make it easy for bad guys to get their hands on dynamite.

Put another way, I’m not really interested in taking your guns away. I’m interested in limiting the availability of guns for bad guys, but I don’t see that happening without enacting restrictions which could impact law-abiding gun owners.

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But surely you must acknowledge that the math has changed. Back in the 18th century a firearm could only kill one person at a time; there wasn’t all that much difference between the lethality of a soldier’s weapon and a hunter’s weapon. The balance of power was largely dictated by which side had more guys willing to fight.

That’s not the case anymore. The U.S. Military has tanks and missiles and rockets and warplanes and every kind of WMD under the sun. Unless you want hillbillies to have the right to own nuclear warheads, the idea of a militia that could hold its own against the Federal government is off the table.

So if we agree in principle that parity of arms is not feasible (I assume you oppose privately owned nukes) then we’re simply disagreeing on where to draw the line. I haven’t seen any reasonable argument for private ownership of assault-style weapons, but if you’re OK with those then why not a tank or a rocket launcher?


Your point about Adam Lanza isn’t lost on me, but I chalk his access to firearms up to his mother being irresponsible. I don’t mean any disrespect for the dead, and I don’t mean to say that she was a bad parent or a negligent one, because I have no reason to think that she was. But with firearms, there’s a huge additional responsibility, and given her son’s mental difficulties, she should have supervised him better around firearms. From my understanding, Adam didn’t tear the gun from her hands - he had free access to a gun and ammo.

I don’t know all of the details, so please forgive me if I’ve said something wrong. And I know that hindsight is 20/20, but it’s terrible to think that a $10 trigger lock might have prevented a mass shooting.

I think the difference between our opinions is that you think that it is the law’s responsibility to make sure that nobody but the firearm owner has access to a firearm, and I think that it is the individual’s responsibility.

Not to harp the point, but do you also feel that the sale and regulation of explosives should be left entirely to “individual responsibility?”

If I was able to buy a box of dynamite then left it in a place where my violent, mentally-ill son could access it I would certainly bear some responsibility for the consequences of that choice. But it would also be reasonable for others to ask “why was that kid’s father allowed to buy something as dangerous as dynamite without any special training, licensing or scrutiny?”

It’s true; back in the 18th century, there was no difference between the firearms used by soldiers and hunters, and in the “conventional” warfare of the way, it was largely a numbers game. I’m going to skip the part about WMDs for now. I’ll come back to it later.

I know that there has already been one definition of “assault rifle” in this thread, which was:

I want to point out a couple of things:

  • Technically, an “assault rifle” is capable of burst and/or fully-automatic fire, which is not available to civilians (I should mention that it is possible for some firearms dealers to become certified to own fully-automatic weapons, after careful scrutiny from the federal government, but this is very rare).
  • The semi-automatic rifles (including the AR-15) available to civilians fire at the same rate as semi-automatic handguns (which most modern handguns are).

To me, the difference between a military rifle and a civilian one is the rate of fire. If you want to talk about hunting, then a semi-automatic rifle is a very good tool to use, as it allows for a follow-up shot if the first shot wasn’t clean. An automatic rifle would be unnecessary for hunting, as it it generally intended for use against multiple targets.

So that’s my argument for “assault-style” weapons. I know that it centered around hunting, which has nothing to do with the Constitution, but I hope I presented an example of a practical civilian use for a semi-automatic weapon. If you want, I can tell you a story of a hunter who used a single-shot rifle, but it’s a little nasty. A semi-automatic rifle is a more humane way to hunt.

So, since I have outlined what I think are the differences between a civilian and military rifle, I hope you can see how personal WMDs are also over the line. A nuclear bomb or a tank are not practical for civilian use either. Though I wouldn’t be worried about hillbillies with warheads anyhow - I don’t know what the going rate for a nuclear warhead is, but I’m sure I don’t know any hillbillies who could afford it. Not even those hillbillies on TV.

Well, I could certainly see how you might be considered an accessory to any crime committed with your irresponsibly cared-for dynamite.

But all states require background checks for gun purchases, and many require special training in order to get your hunting license and buy a firearm. So as long as buying dynamite requires the same level of training, licensing, and scrutiny as buying a firearm does, the answer would be “he did go through all of that.”

A militia is “The whole body of physically fit civilians eligible by law for military service.” Well regulated means well equipped (ETA well ordered, having their shit together). I am neither physically fit nor especially well equipped (but I’m working on it). So I am not a part of an organized militia. Not that that matters, as the rights don’t extend only to militias, but to the “people”. If by magic there was a requirement tomorrow to be a member of a militia in order to own guns, I am confident that with the internet one could form one within a week. Then what, make them go practice once a month? “Oh no, Br’er Bear, not the briar patch!”

I don’t agree with this, but I guess it’s all interpretation. I see “well-regulated” as meaning a well-disciplined militia, or maybe one that’s regulated by the state in which it was formed. But not federally regulated.

And that is where I have the problem. If it were any other issue, I can’t see how one could logically argue taking something away from millions of people because of a very small population of people that misuse it.

Case in point, you are more likely to have an accidental death in your house if you own a pool, than if you own a gun. If pools are more dangerous than guns, and no one needs a pool, why is no one calling for the banning of private pools?

I too would like to avoid guns getting into the hands of criminals. Unfortunately, most of the guns criminals get would circumvent any new gun laws. In a 1997 study, this is where criminals reported how they acquired their gun:
• 39.6% of criminals obtained a gun from a friend or family member
• 39.2% of criminals obtained a gun on the street or from an illegal source
• 0.7% of criminals purchased a gun at a gun show
• 1% of criminals purchased a gun at a flea market
• 3.8% of criminals purchased a gun from a pawn shop
• 8.3% of criminals actually bought their guns from retail

As you can see, most of the guns they get are from the streets or from family or friends. I am sure many of those are from straw purchases, but until we can read minds preventing straw purchases is very hard to do.

You might note that even though people are screaming about the “gun show loophole”, it accounts for the least number of guns.

I don’t have a great answer on how to reduce gun crime. I think one could start with the social ills that lead to crime and try to uplift a community out of it. Of course a lot of gun deaths are tied to the drug trade. I can’t help but think that by ending drug prohibition one would see a dramatic decrease in violence, just as we did with alcohol.

One more thing. While I am not suggesting that rocket launchers be made legal to civilians, when the 2nd Amendment was passed it applied to things like cannons. Many rich people owned cannons and they were called into action in every war from the Revolution, to after the Civil War. If the framers were familiar with private citizens owning the most powerful weapons at the time, I don’t think they would have any problem with the modern day AR. Actually, muzzle loaded cannons are still perfectly legal today. No license or anything needed. Yet no one has blown up anything of importance lately.

Mmm - maybe that was over simplifying the definition. Regulate refers to the adjusting to a particular specification or requirement; to put or maintain in order. For example from a 1792 law on militias, each man must “provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball”.

In other words they have all their shit together, and not just show up with a musket and no shoes.

Ok, I see how you could interpret “well-regulated” as “well-equipped” now. Where did that quote come from?

It was just on Wikipedia. I don’t like using it as a reference that much, but it’s hard to find things sometimes that people won’t accuse the source of being “right wing” or “from some gun nut site”. Wikipedia, though far from perfect, is at least fairly neutral about things.

Cool. I actually like Wikipedia as a reference, because usually cites its own references. So I guess that the site it came from is this:

@Mister44, could you email me? Or if there’s some messaging capability on bbs that I don’t know about, use that.

Again, I’ve already provided at least one other example: EXPLOSIVES. The vast, vast majority of people who use explosives use them for non-violent purposes ranging from mining to demolitions to Mythbusting. But they are still heavily regulated because they are incredibly dangerous things that could do great harm in the wrong hands.

That’s because most gun laws are watered down to the point of being laughably ineffective. For example, “tough” gun laws that only apply to one geographic region (say, Chicago) aren’t going to have much of an impact on supply if a would-be shooter can freely buy weapons a couple of counties over.

I don’t have a great answer either, but I think we’d be pretty darn silly to dismiss approaches that have had real and tangible effects in culturally similar nations. There haven’t been as many gun deaths in Australia recently, for example.

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That’s a big leap. I’ve never heard of anyone legally and anonymously purchasing large quantities of explosives at a gun show.

Oh gosh. Nor have I, but I don’t really follow sales of explosives. Do you know anyone who has ever purchased explosives? Neither do I; I have no idea how easy they are to obtain.

But legally and anonymously purchasing guns at a gun show isn’t common. Vendors still do background checks, and even if you make a purchase in the parking lot outside, all of the private sales that I have seen still require either a permit, which shows that you have passed a background check, or proof of a recent purchase from a gun shop, which also shows that you have passed a background check.

[quote=“Brainspore, post:94, topic:10635”]
Again, I’ve already provided at least one other example: EXPLOSIVES. [/quote]

I guess that is a decent example, though explosives have a much higher potential for destruction than fire arms. There are a lot of other “dangerous” things out there that people aren’t up in arms about banning.

[quote=“JonasEggeater, post:96, topic:10635, full:true”]
Oh gosh. Nor have I, but I don’t really follow sales of explosives. Do you know anyone who has ever purchased explosives? Neither do I; I have no idea how easy they are to obtain.[/quote]

I know a few things are easy to get, such as Tannerite, black powder, and smokeless powder. Dynamite used to be easy to get, but stuff like it and C4 are now regulated. I recall my grandpa talking about using dynamite to take out a big tree stump on the farm. Ammonium Nitrate was easy to get, but there are some restrictions on it now (though not as much as high explosives.) I believe there is stuff for making model rocket engines. I know the premade ones are easy to get I believe the components to make custom engines is easy to get too.

[quote=“JonasEggeater, post:96, topic:10635, full:true”]
But legally and anonymously purchasing guns at a gun show isn’t common. Vendors still do background checks, and even if you make a purchase in the parking lot outside, all of the private sales that I have seen still require either a permit, which shows that you have passed a background check, or proof of a recent purchase from a gun shop, which also shows that you have passed a background check.[/quote]

Perhaps your state is different, but most places don’t require any check if it is a private face to face sale. If I were to mail my gun to you from out of state, I would have to go through an FFL. MOST of the sales at gun shows are done by FFL licensed vendors, so nearly all guns at a gun show are bought with a background check. There are sometimes private people who pay for a booth to sell guns. Generally they are either collectors looking to sell/swap items, or something happened like their dad died and left a half dozen hunting rifles they don’t know what to do with. Occasionally you will see someone with a rifle slinged on their back and a stick in the barrel with a price tag on it. So while there can be these private sales at gun shows, they are by far the minority of sales. And if you refer to my figures about, they do not account for hardly any guns used in crimes.

No, that’s true in my state as well, it’s just that folks don’t want to take the risk of accidentally selling to someone who isn’t legally eligible to own firearms, so they require the documentation even though, strictly speaking, the law does not.

  • The vast majority of pool deaths don’t involve someone killing another person with a pool, even by accident.
  • Pools are not specifically designed to kill or injure. They aren’t strictly necessary, but it’s clear that they have a useful purpose.
  • Pools wouldn’t be a very efficient way of offing large numbers of people if you were so inclined.
  • Pools are not very mobile, as a rule. Generally, if you are in the vicinity of a pool, you had some choice in the matter. Having a concealed private pool in a public area is probably already banned by existing laws, and public pools are already strictly regulated.

Having said that, private pools represent a huge waste of water and probably should be regulated.


Well, as I see it, the attitude that its an ‘inanimate object’ is part of the problem. It’s an object with a very specific purpose, and a huge amount of psychological significance imbued in it, which leaves a large mark on society as a whole. All this ‘tackle the issues behind the individuals’ folderol seems to me to imply ‘only crazy people murder folks with guns’. Which is a) untrue, and b) leads to some serious stigma of folks defined on common parlance as ‘crazy’. Which is some serious bullshit. Stupid people kill folks with guns. Angry people kill folks with guns. Jealous people kill folks with guns. Clumsy people kill folks with guns. Little tiny toddler people kill folks with guns. Greedy people who want someone out of their way for their own benefit kill people with guns. People kill people. Yes, yes, [insert murder-statistics that are non gun-related here], but it isn’t as easy, and requires being up close and personal Neither does it have the massively attractive power of something that has become f a fetish-object and is designed to do huge damage at a distance.

A culture which has a massive mythology about the gun, and a constant narrative in its fiction about ‘stopping the bad guys’ by shooting them dead, needs to fucking well address its obsession with guns. If that upsets a few folks’ hobbies, and pops the bubble of another bunch of folks self-defence fantasies, well boo hoo, that is very sad.

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