TOM THE DANCING BUG: The Path to Tyranny - "First They Came to Register..."

Tom the Dancing Bug, IN WHICH one small step leads straight down the slippery slope to tyranny. "First they came to register..." BE THE FIRST ON YOUR BLOCK to see Tom the Dancing Bug, by @RubenBolling, every week! Members of the elite and prestigious INNER HIVE get the comic emailed to their inboxes at least a day before publication -- and much, much, much, MUCH* MORE!

Please click HERE for information. Thank you.

(*Actually, not that much.)



  1. Already some wingnuts are trying to spin yesterday’s campus knife attack at Lone Star College as evidence that gun control won’t deter psychos from carrying out their evil deeds.

    Apparently they didn’t notice that, unlike most mass shootings, every one of the 14 people wounded in this tragedy are expected to survive.

    1. To be fair, even here in the UK where it’s practically impossible to own a gun, people still shoot each other.
      Many, many, many less dead people though.

      1. Most of us Americans fighting for better gun control laws realize that no legislation will end gun violence entirely. We’re just trying to get it down to “developed country that is not in a war zone” levels.

        1. What level would that be?  According to the FBI, 0.00002752726% of the American population was killed by firearms in 2011, and a further 0.00000543296% of the American population perished by knives that year.  (Source:

          So, in all seriousness, if you acknowledge that no legislation will eliminate gun deaths entirely, what level are you, uhm, shooting for?
          By way of reference, 0.00038717423% of the civilian population of Iraq died in the first year, of the Iraqi War, a bonafide “war zone.” (Source:  The U.S. murder rate –by all methods, not just knives and firearms –is about 1/10 that.   

          1.  If you want to make the numbers smaller – legalize drugs and attack poverty, two of the main causes of gun violence.

          2. ..because there is this concept called ‘diminishing returns’. you may have heard of it – especially the important part about the cost eventually outweighing the benefits.

          3. True, just think of all the terrible costs in the registration of firearms. All that paperwork, for what, to prevent a few measly deaths?

          4. @boingboing-31b4c60fe3a1926896a630370badafaa:disqus : I’d also happily accept the gun death rates in Canada, Australia, the UK… pretty much any one of those countries that are culturally and demographically similar to the United States. (Oh, I forgot—they all turned into fascist dictatorships the instant they started to regulate gun ownership.)

          5. @Happler:disqus : Brazil’s gun death rate didn’t skyrocket when they introduced gun registration laws. They introduced gun registration laws because their gun death rate was sky high.

            I already mentioned the UK, Australia, Canada, etc. These countries, which are culturally and demographically similar to the U.S., would seem to provide perfectly reasonable precedents for how we might expect new gun control laws to play out.

          6.  This is a really good question.  However, anti gun control people do not want anyone to be able to answer it.  For at least the last decade, the Federal government cannot fund research on the impact of various gun regulations on public health.  (,0,969707.story) So we don’t know the answer to that question.

            Maybe there would be a very easy way (say by subsidizing locks on weapons) to reduce deaths and injuries from guns that would hardly restrict the ability of individuals to own guns (I personally think Heller and McDonald is wrong, so there is no real “right”).  Maybe confiscating weapons would increase gun deaths and injuries.  We won’t know because we can’t research it because Charles Grassley says gun ownership isn’t a disease.

          7. A tenth of a major invasion means Brainspore was using much less hyperbole than one might reasonably expect. It’s certainly nothing typical of developed countries, as his link shows.

            I would have thought being a tenth as bad as Iraq is not something anyone would think to brag about. I guess you’ve taught me something.

          8.  Alternatively: the world is not nearly as deadly and violent as most people perceive it to be.  This cuts both for and against gun control, but if we want to have this debate intelligently, than we must acknowledge this:  Murderous violence is relatively rare, particularly in the United States.

            We do hear about it a lot when it happens, though, and that colors our perception of the extent of the problem.  It makes some of us think we need more guns to protect ourselves; it makes some of us think we need to vigorously discourage gun ownership to stop rampant violence.  Neither side’s most vocal partisans have their arms around reality.

          9. Murderous violence is relatively rare, particularly in the United States.

            From your link, not at all rare for the developed world; by your own words, a tenth of the deaths caused by a military invasion.

          10. Agreed: if the number of fatalities ever reached 0.001%, we would be talking about catastrophic loss of life and apocalyptic levels of death. Many tens of thousands dead in a nation the size of the USA annually.

            Sometimes figures can look innocuous, obfuscating more than enlightening.

          11. Two logical fallacies there, m’boy. First, the number you used is deceptive, by comparing specific types of fatalities to the size of the overall population. It is not a very useful number, as it does not reflect the number of weapons in possession, nor deaths by natural causes such as old age, and so on. Comparing guns to knives, for example, begs the question of how many knives are involved in causing casualties in comparison to firearms and casualties. By your logic, plutonium poisoning does not need to be regulated at all, since the deaths caused by that are even smaller!

            The second logical fallacy is the fallacy of false perfection. Since perfection is not possible, all efforts must be abandoned. This argument therefore condemns all possible improvements to “not good enough”, much like the arguments against seat belts: if they can’t prevent all fatalities, then we shouldn’t try to enforce their usage.

          12. A third kind of logical fallacy, of which you are apparently unaware, is that of the “straw man,” e.g., falsely characterizing someone’s position as “if we can’t eliminate all gun deaths, we shouldn’t make any efforts to eliminate any gun deaths” when, in fact, it’s obviously not the position that was proffered at all.

            Rights of the sort contemplated in our Bill of Rights all come with societal costs.  In order to evaluate whether the benefit of the right is worthwhile in the end, we have to know what it costs us.  So the question stands:  What number of gun deaths will we as a society find to be an acceptable cost, in exchange for us as a society continuing to have the right contemplated in the Second Amendment?

          13.  Each person that died was a person, with family and friends who grieve. Can you put yourself in their position? Assuming you support gun ownership, can you acknowledge that we can do a much better job of preventing firearm deaths, through rational, reasonable means?

            Literally reducing the harm that guns do to a fraction of a percentage point, while ignoring the evident pain and suffering inflicted monthly and daily takes some really strong denial skills. Can you use you intelligence to make the situation better?

          14.  I hope we all –on both sides of this issue –use intelligence in addressing it, instead of emotion.  Legislators (and the people who elect them) acting when impassioned and grieving from senseless tragedy is a recipe for creating bad public policy.  I thought we all learned this in the wake of 9/11, but we are going down the same road again, stripping the rights of millions due to the actions of a dozen or so madmen.  That never ends well.  Let’s please be sober when we draft new laws.

            Can I “acknowledge that we can do a much better job of preventing firearm deaths, through rational, reasonable means?”  Sure I can; though the most “rational, reasonable means” of eliminating gun deaths have more to do with changing a culture of violence which affects millions of Americans (e.g., the War on Drugs), rather than eliminating tools which only a maybe a dozen Americans –out of a population of 300+ million –misuse every year.  That’s just hysteria.

          15. Didn’t ANYONE else notice that those numbers are 100 times smaller than the actual percentages?

            The real annual chance of gun death for an American is on the order of 0.002752726%.  Also known as 1 chance in 36,327.  Annually.

          16. You’re right –I didn’t adjust for the percentage sign when I cut & pasted from calculator.  My bad, good catch.  I stand by the (non-decimal) point, though:  Very few Americans die from random gun violence (i.e., mass school shootings, as opposed to War on Drugs fallout) every year.

          17. Laws against murder will never stop all murders. Therefore we should repeal all laws against murder. That’s your logic, right? Laws don’t cure social ills, so don’t have laws. Right. Duh…

        2. The trouble that I have is that the laws currently being mooted don’t really address the tool of most firearms deaths in the US – handguns.  

          Assault-weapons bans, magazine capacity limits and background checks are unlikely to do *anything* to ameliorate that problem.  

          1. I dunno.  It seems to me the difference isn’t “perfect vs. good”.  

            Rather, from an epidemiological standpoint, given the fact that 75-80% of all gun murders are w/ handguns the distinction is rather one of a “significant difference” versus “negligible impact.”  

    2. It seems like many of those advocates have a strange idea of the relative power of knives and guns. When it comes to a murderer trying to kill people, a piece of glass is as dangerous as an assault rifle. When it comes to trying to stop them, anyone without an unregistered gun is doomed.

      1.  Yes, clearly if James Holmes had walked into a movie theater carrying a piece of glass, he’d have succeeded at killing 12 people and wounding 53 within a span of just a few minutes.

        1. That’s more or less a scenario I heard presented; Brainspore’s example is in the same vein.

          An example the other way is the famous “I wish to God she would have had an M4 in her office locked up…” It seems like advocates for keeping guns out of control don’t care how incompatible these sorts of hypotheticals are.

      2. “When it comes to a murderer trying to kill people, a piece of glass is as dangerous as an assault rifle.”
        No it isn’t. 

        If it was we’d all still be using swords and martial arts. The gun is, in fact, so superior to edged weapons that it turned an entire system of battle obsolete. 

      3. That argument begs the question.

        If a piece of glass is equal to an assault riffle then you aught to be able to stop them with an unregistered piece of glass – according to your logic.

      4. The difference is in the fact that it’s really hard to carry around 20 pieces of sharp glass, let alone throw them all up to 500 metres in less than 20 seconds.

      5. Just out of curiosity, I wonder what the ratio of guns owned to gun-related fatalities (accidents included) is to knives owned to knife-related fatalities (accidents included). That ought to be a good starting point for measuring the inherent danger of a gun. Note that this does not discuss nonlethal uses for knives or guns.

        1. Just one of *many* useful pieces of information that we can only gain with wild estimates or compulsory registration of guns and knives.

          Personally, I’m pro-gun, pro-registration. I’d be happy to trade my right to own a gun here without registering it, for the right to own a fully automatic weapon.

          So, there are  middle grounds to be had :)

        2.  I was under the impression that the likelihood of gun death raises with having one around.

      1. You make an excellent point — the implement is irrelevant. The assailant was able to kill — er, well, somewhat wound a whole bunch of people with a knife before bystanders with guns — er, their bare hands were able to kill — er, restrain the troubled man. I’m sure it works out just about the same with a firearm.

    3. Having drug laws won’t stop druggies from shooting up.

      Having immigration laws won’t stop people from crossing illegally.

      Having sodomy laws won’t stop homosexual sex.

      So I assume this means the GOP is turning over a new leaf… or their hypocrisy has reached new lows.

  2. Does our fine dancing bug realize that his parody has already been scooped by conspirary theorist ‘reality’.

    Just google “Agenda 21” and read in fascinating detail all about the fascist UN One World Government plot to destroy suburbia(ie. ‘Real America’) and private vehicle ownership in order to herd everyone into stalinist apartment complexes and force them to take overcrowded public transit…

    It’s hard keeping your satire ahead of sincere mouth-frothers these days.

    1. Some state legislatures have gone as far as to ban Agenda 21, which ensures we will all be free forever.

    2. I ride me a bike to work. On most nominally related threads on the Internet, I’ve read at some point that people like me don’t want anyone to have a car. Seriously, is there something in the water in this country, a la The Thanatos Syndrome?

      1. Beats the hell out of me… Mainly me riding a bike to work makes me want *me* to not have a car, but that’s a completely different discussion last I checked…

    3. That’s not a secret government conspiracy — that’s a plan drawn up by the Ballard Group. They’ve got some… unusual ideas. Do NOT look into their research on private transportation.

  3. Unfortunately for the punchline, gun registration IS about enabling confiscation when the government wants to confiscate guns. 

    It can be for good (e.g. California has an excellent program to confiscate guns from those who bough them legally but are now prohibited from owning guns), or it can be for ill (e.g. California once declared a group of rifles as “Not assault weapons, no need to register”, then changed to “oh, you need to register them” to “oh, you registered late so we are going to confiscate them all”).

    But to deny that registration is to enable confiscation is to deny history.

    1. Cars can be confiscated too, but it would be silly to describe any state’s car registration laws as being all about “enabling confiscation.” The comparison is sound.

      1. In the interest of complete intellectual honesty, we have to note the difference between driving a car (a “privilege” according to the state of California at least) and owning a gun (a Constitutionally-guaranteed right).

        Still, I endorse Ruben’s viewpoint here.

        1. In my view that distinction makes the “they’re gonna take everybody’s guns away!” panic even sillier.

          1. Everyone is the militia; the people are legally the militia. 

            That being said, Heller and McDonald held that gun ownership is an individual right. 

          2. That doesn’t address “well regulated.” 

            I should also note that I am pro-Second Amendment.  Just…also pro-“well regulated.”

          3. While I still think if you want to be in a well regulated militia you should have to train properly.

            But the “everyone is in a militia” argument and the 2nd amendment specifically are about slave hunting gangs.

            People could be pressed into to service and made part of a local militia on no notice if a slave escaped or there were other problems with slaves.

            You couldn’t really say no when they were raising a militia to slave hunt.

            That is why the 2nd amendment exists, the south thought the constitution was going to take away their guns and slave hunting groups.


          4. @boingboing-5ee84d6c2567859408a25da09f9f2a7a:disqus 

            Granted, arguendo, that militias were constituted or employed in part to hunt runaway slaves.  

            However, that was far from their only purpose.  They were also intended to repel foreign invasion, suppress domestic disturbance, and, paradoxically, act as a last-resort check on Federal power.  

          5. And corporations are people too, which means that a piece of paper must fight in the militia too…

            Isn’t blind faith and ahistorical constitutional fetishism fun?

          6. Well, for what it’s worth, there’s no clause at all describing the state’s need for a “well-regulated fleet of minivans.”

            I’m not addressing the treatment of the “well-regulated militia” clause of the Second Amendment as a total non-sequitur by gun-control foes.  All I’m saying is that car ownership doesn’t even enjoy that kind of arguable protection… and yet though my legal driving privilege might be suspended or revoked if I piss off the state in certain ways, and they might seize my car if I piss them off in others, the fact remains that as long as I keep my nose even reasonably clean, nobody’s out to confiscate my wheels.  And that’s been the case for over a century.  

            One of these days, when my kids are wheeling me back and forth to and from my rejuvenation treatments at the Immortality Clinic in their GoogleCars, society might decide that privately-owned and manually-operated vehicles are a menace and a hazard worth outlawing.  If that’s the case, should I rely upon the twentieth century society’s attitude toward cars, and tell the clone troopers that they’ll seize my old Merc’ry when they laser my cold, dead (yet remarkably youthful-looking, thanks to the rejuvenation treatments) fingers from its steering wheel?  Or should I accept that wanting to own and drive my own four-passenger internal-combustion conveyance has become as quaint as great-grandpa’s desire to homestead hisself a few acres?  Or his father’s desire to own a few slaves?

            Maybe we should be originalists and allow people to keep and shoot as many flintlocks as they want, provided they serve in the National Guard.  Or we could, like, evolve.


              All I’m saying is that car ownership doesn’t even enjoy that kind of
            arguable protection… and yet though my legal driving privilege might
            be suspended or revoked if I piss off the state in certain ways, and
            they might seize my car if I piss them off in others, the fact remains
            that as long as I keep my nose even reasonably clean, nobody’s out to
            confiscate my wheels.

            Again, you’re simply wrong about this.  Automobile ownership is implicitly protected by the constitution as an unenumerated right.

          8. @wysinwyg:disqus 

            You are categorically correct that owning an automobile is an absolute right.  

            Driving it is also an absolute right so far as I can tell, so long as it’s done on private property and not a public road.  

            If the car never leaves your property, you don’t even need to license or register it (though how you get it home w/o a license might pose a problem). 

            Once you try to drive it on a public road, though, that’s where your rights become privileges.

            You seem to be conflating the right to travel (an innate human right) with the right to travel via a certain method (not so much).

          9. You seem to be conflating the right to travel (an innate human right)
            with the right to travel via a certain method (not so much).

            According to basic natural rights theory actually travel via any method you are able to procure is a right.  Also according to natural rights theory, this right may be abrogated for the sake of protecting, say, property rights — your right to break into a car to drive it is abrogated by laws about property rights.  Essentially, the right of the owner of the property to own the property trumps your right to use it whenever you want.

            I don’t believe in natural rights in the first place so all this stuff about “rights vs. privileges” seems like so much semantic bullshit to me but if you’d like to prove me wrong go ahead and do so by citing something that demonstrates that movement is a right but choice of conveyance is not. I don’t know why you’d expect saying “not so much” would be enough to convince anyone of anything.

            Incidentally, the right to move freely is also abrogated by property rights laws which prevent trespassing.

          10. The argument I’ve seen promulgated is that  “regulated” in 18th-century parlance is equivalent in meaning to “functioning.”

            I guess the question could be answered to some extent by finding out how contemporary militias were defined, composed, and…uh…regulated.

          11. @Aloisius:disqus Consider, if you will, that a word can have more than one meaning.  
            Even, perhaps, a meaning or meanings no longer commonly used.  

          12.  The men who wrote the Constitution of the United States were adamantly against the creation of a standing army, because the establishment of a professional military class would allow populist demagogues to invade foreign countries on behalf of lying plutocrats, and other stuff it turns out hardly never happens!.  They wanted every property-owning American male to own and be expert with a military-grade weapon, and their worst nightmare was a future where people asked the government to protect them from themselves.

        2.  Actually, according to the constitution individuals retain rights they are not explicitly denied so owning and driving a car is a right every bit as much as gun ownership.  It says right there in the bill of rights that the enumeration of these rights is not meant to be exhaustive of the rights enjoyed by US citizens.

          The question is whether such rights can be abrogated for the purpose of public safety and other reasonable concerns and more than 200 years of jurisprudence agree that yes, they can.  Even the first amendment is regulated: “freedom of the press” is not reserved by all citizens, only by those acknowledged to be legitimate journalists; free speech is constrained by restrictions on incitement to violence and slander; etc.

          Only a few left-wing authoritarians want to ban guns entirely or confiscate all the guns in circulation.  What the rest of us want is a way to ensure that legal gun owners are being responsible about their gun ownership — the exact same way that automobile registration and licensure is intended to ensure legal owners of automobiles are responsible about their automobile ownership.

          1. As I pointed out elsewhere, but belabor a bit here, there is no requirement to license oneself or one’s car, provided that one doesn’t leave private property in the car.  

            AIUI, you can tool around to your heart’s content on the back 40 in your new Chevy, sans tags, plates, or operator’s license.

            I would be interested, incidentally, to see the jurisprudence that limits press freedom only to “legitimate journalists.”

          2. @wysinwyg:disqus  While those links were interesting and informative, they don’t seem terribly on-point.  

            Virtually all rights have restrictions upon them, but that isn’t what I was talking about.  

            It’s generally considered good form to confine one’s responses to the arguments being made, versus ones you wish were made.

            I was specifically addressing whether journalists enjoy any press freedom rights distinct from ordinary citizens.  With the exception of shield laws (mentioned in your first link), the answer is “not really.”

          3. Actually, according to the constitution individuals retain rights they are not explicitly denied so owning and driving a car is a right every bit as much as gun ownership.  It says right there in the bill of rights that the enumeration of these rights is not meant to be exhaustive of the rights enjoyed by US citizens.

            Don’t forget the rest of that Tenth Amendment: the undelegated powers “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  (Italics mine.)  The state can certainly prohibit an unlicensed driver from operating a vehicle on publicly-maintained roads.  Let’s check out the California Vehicle Code: “Section 14607.6.  (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, and except as provided in this section, a motor vehicle is subject to forfeiture as a nuisance if it is driven on a highway in this state by a driver with a suspended or revoked license, or by an unlicensed driver, who is a registered owner of the vehicle at the time of impoundment and has a previous misdemeanor conviction for a violation of subdivision (a) of Section 12500 or Section 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, 14601.3, 14601.4, or 14601.5.”  So it seems the state can (and will) impound your privately-owned vehicle under certain circumstances.  Is that unconstitutional?  Or would it be a state’s right under the Tenth Amendment?


        3.  Constitutionally-guaranteed right

          I’m guessing that 18th century Americans wouldn’t mind taking an unfit militiaman’s weapon from him.

          1. Of course not, nor should they.  To my mind, “constitutionally-guaranteed right” does not equate with “direct literal order from all-powerful deity of one’s choice.”  Never mind whether or not somebody’s in the militia; “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” makes no mention whatsoever of any extenuating circumstance.  Could be even Antonin Scalia might concede that the Framers took it as axiomatic that the violently insane should be kept out of the armory.

            Hey, keep in mind that I have no strong love for the Second Amendment, and no love at all for those who fetishize it past the point of rationality.  I’m just quibbling about Ruben’s comparison, and in a minor way at that.

    2. What’s wrong with enabling confiscation? Seems to me that should in fact be the whole point. Just the same as if you are deemed unworthy to drive, your driver’s license can and should be revoked.

    3. So you agree with the comic that mandatory motor vehicle registration was the first step towards confiscation?

      Let me throw this out there — confiscation is impossible without registration. Therefore, clearly, any historical gun confiscation would have been preceded by mandatory registration. But it’s a logical fallacy to assume one inevitably leads to the other. You’re choosing to only look at data that “proves” your point and discarding the rest. There are plenty of countries with mandatory gun registration which haven’t confiscated all the guns.

      1. “There are plenty of countries with mandatory gun registration which haven’t confiscated all the guns YET.”
        There, fixed that for you.

        1. “There are plenty of countries with mandatory car registration which haven’t confiscated all the cars YET.” There, put it in proper perspective for you.

          1. The registration of cars was followed by something far worse than confiscation, they created a special type of “moving violation” and removed the right to a jury. Creating a de facto guilt every time you start your vehicle on US soil.

      2.  You can accomplish background checks (a significant good IMO) without enabling registration.  E.g. the federal system has the records stored only with the dealer.  If the feds need to find out “who bought gun Serial #X”, they need to call the manufacturer, then the dealer. 

        Yet every BUYER is checked, and the feds simply just don’t record the little information they get (“Person X at dealer Y passed the background check”)

        This is deliberate.  A mandatory background check on private sales could do the same thing, with the dealer simply forwarding to the MANUFACTURER information on the gun’s serial # (unless the manufacturer is out of business)

        And its also a matter of intellectual honesty. 

        You see so many claims that “registration is not about confiscation” made by gun control advocates, claims which history has shown are plainly false, both in other countries (UK and Australia being prime examples) and here in the US (California and Illinois both use registration for confiscation).

        1. One thing I hear a lot from gun lovers is “we don’t need more laws, we need better enforcement of the laws already on the books!”

          Well, guess what? One of those already-on-the-books laws in California is “violent felons aren’t allowed to own guns.” To enforce that law requires confiscating guns once people are convicted of a violent felony, which is a pretty dang hard thing to do if nobody is required to register their firearms.

          1. Exactly.  They like “existing laws” because the existing laws are so full of loopholes as to be basically impotent in preventing actual bad guys from getting guns, or convicting bad guys when they are caught using guns to do bad things.  Which is exactly what the NRA professes to want: more bad guys with guns doing bad things.  Or something.

          2. You assume that felons have registered every gun that they own.

            While we are at it, we can just assume that everyone driving a car on the road is fully licensed, insured, and registered.

          3. I assume no such thing. I’m saying that when gun registration is mandatory (particularly at time of purchase) it is easier to determine if a newly-convicted felon owns any guns that ought to be confiscated. It’s not intended to be a foolproof measure, it’s intended as one means of harm reduction. 

            To use your analogy: obviously all drivers are not insured, licensed and registered. This is not a logical argument against legally requiring those things.

          4. While we’re at it, since felons also tend to ignore laws against rape murder and embezzlement, let’s just go ahead and repeal those laws as well.

          5. Something like 80% of crimes committed using firearms are committed with firearms stolen from legal owners.

            Why do legal owners of firearms have so much trouble keeping their firearms out of the hands of criminals?  Do they need help?  Maybe some sort of registration and licensure scheme to make sure that they’re being responsible about their gun ownership and not letting their guns fall into the wrong hands?

          6. @wysinwyg:disqus 

            Something like 80% of crimes committed using firearms are committed with firearms stolen from legal owners.

            A recent Frontline documentary found that this was in fact not the case.

            Most criminals evidently get their guns via straw purchases or purchase from corrupt gun 
            dealers.  Stolen guns are believed to be near the *bottom* of the list of ways criminals get guns.


        2. Dude, enough with the logical fallacies.

          ~A->~B does not entail that A->B.  It does entail that B->A, but that’s not what you’re arguing.  Taking it back into context:

          “No registration -> no confiscation” does not entail “registration -> confiscation”.  It obviously implies “confiscation -> registration” but that’s not what you’re arguing.

          As was already pointed out there are many registration schemes already in place that have not led to confiscation.  This is simply a stupid argument.  When anti-gun control folks make stupid arguments it makes me even more sure we need more gun control.  Your strategy of making stupid arguments is self-defeating.

          1.  Get used to it, it’s a “gun control” argument.  No data allowed, because it doesn’t support either of the extremist positions.

            Cars kill more people than guns, which apparently Reuben is aware of.  Cite: 2012 National Vital Statistics Report, preliminary release, available online in PDF.

            Right now diseases related to obesity are more dangerous to the US population than gun violence.  But try to convince an anti-gun crusader that we should direct our limited resources to fighting obesity instead of restricting gun owners who have done no harm?  Don’t hold your breath waiting for a sane response!  That’d be like expecting the NRA to agree that gun safety research should be funded.

          2. 1. This should be so obvious that I don’t have to say it: there are more people driving cars in the USA than owning guns, and those who own cars use them more often than gun owners use guns.  Cars are only more dangerous than guns because they are used more by more people, not because they are inherently more dangerous.
            2. Gun control is not mutually exclusive to better regulation of automobiles and better public health.
            3. Many, many people who advocate for better gun control also advocate for better regulation of automobiles and better public health policies.  Then conservatives criticize them for wanting to ban giant sodas.  Seems a little disingenuous.

          3. But try to convince an anti-gun crusader that we should direct our
            limited resources to fighting obesity instead of restricting gun owners
            who have done no harm?

            I like how you use “extremist position” and then use deliberately dishonest phrasing like “anti-gun”, while also offering up a false choice, as well as the “cars kill more” fallacy. You’re a triple threat.

          4. You want citations?  Lets just stick to California then.  (You can go read the Wikipedia entries for Australia and UK gun control, and keep in mind that ‘turn in your guns’ laws worked in no small part because of the previous registration laws.)

            California’s Bureau of Firearms in the DOJ has a special (unfortunately underfunded) unit which uses registration information to confiscate guns.  Its gotten a fair amount of press lately due to underfunding.  Google  “Tense moments as California agents confiscate illegal guns” for one such report.For the Assault weapons confiscation in California, where it was “not AW”, “no, register”, “no, sorry, you registered late, confiscating” history google “California SKS sporter” for the sad saga.One CA state senator (Bonta, AB 174) recently proposed a bill to do that to ALL registered assault weapons.  And well, since they are all registered…There is a reason why the gun crazies fear that registration leads to confiscation.  It can be confiscate from the right people.  It can be confiscate from everybody.

          5. You have no idea what a citation is, do you?

            You’ve got histrionics down pat, though.

      3. “confiscation is impossible without registration.”
        i don’t even think that’s true. when a government has turned so far that the military and police forces are out in force confiscating people’s guns, it’s just as easy to imagine random checks of people’s homes, checks of every nra member’s house, people who have been to shooting ranges, ex-military, etc.
        it’s very strange to conceive of a radical confiscation scenario hinging on something as trivial as registration.

    4. Gun registration is no more about seizure than requiring a social security number with demographic data attached is about shipping “undesirables” off to death camps.  
      The fact that you can point to a particularly tragic case where that occurred does not mean that it is the only purpose or the inevitable outcome of such a program. 

        1. Riiiiiight.  Shouldn’t you be returning to your secret cave soon?  If you spend too much online, they can track your location and might send in the black helicopters or zap you with a satellite. . 

  4. Look, I don’t mind it when our wonderful senior citizens want to go off on a rant about how messed up everything is. But let’s be honest, I really don’t want that old dude driving, he could kill someone. It’d be better if he had a gun– he probably couldn’t even lift it or get it loaded.

      1. You have a great idea, a trade in. Senior citizens can turn in their cars and receive a gun. They can do it next to the table where gangsters can turn in guns and receive a toy.

  5. Once people admitted that cars were merely phallic symbols, that their sole purpose was to go faster than anyone needed, they caused the deaths of innocent thousands of people every year, and only the police needed them, it was easy.

    1.  who needs cars anyway, when we can all just ride the slippery slope to whatever conclusion we need to reach?

  6. A federal gun registry is a violation of GOPA. 

    Rights registries have universally been overturned by the supreme court.

    Every single US gun registry has led to confiscation. Almost all gun registries in other countries have also led to confiscation.

    The Canadian long gun registry was used to confiscate .22 LR rifles even after it was repealed, before the repeal went into effect. 

    The Canadian long gun registry never prevented a single crime, nor was it once instrumental in solving any. 

      1. Well even in Canada, compliance was only about 50% and it ended up costing about 20 times more than was promised. 

        1. Also Canada only had about 1/5 the gun death rate of the U.S. to begin with so there’s probably a law of diminishing returns in there somewhere.

        2. And yet they only average about a fifth of the  gun homicides a year the US does (adjusted for population) while allowing hunting for those that want to do so.  Crazy.

    1. Every single US gun registry has led to confiscation.

      How would one go about enforcing laws such as “violent felons aren’t allowed to own guns” without confiscating guns from people who are convicted of violent felonies?

      1. It’s not just felons that have had their guns confiscated. Even the ACLU is skeptical about gun registries.

        1. Quite right. Some people with mental health problems or domestic violence restraining orders against them have also had their guns confiscated.

          Now, maybe you have legitimate gripes against some of the laws which prevent those people from owning guns (i.e. should someone convicted of a white-collar felony have his guns taken away?). But the merits of the laws may be debated independently of the gun registries which make enforcing them possible.

          1. California has had multiple examples of firearms being added to their ban list; because they were registered, they were confiscated. The people had done nothing illegal whatsoever. 

            We have certain laws that make certain guns illegal on the federal level (see 922r); if such laws are changed, many people could easily be affected particularly when combined with a registry, without committing any crimes either. 

            There is also the ease of which the definition of a prohibited person can be changed, particularly by executive order. 

            Plus, it’s illegal, currently, anyway, under FOPA:

          2. California has had multiple examples of firearms being added to their ban list; because they were registered, they were confiscated. The people had done nothing illegal whatsoever.

            The registry allowed enforcement of a law you clearly disagree with, but if those gun owners had kept their now-illegal weapons then yes—by definition they would have been doing something illegal.

  7. “The Canadian Gun Registry never prevented a single crime”…

    I want to do research in that alternate historical line too! How do I get there?

  8. I’m really not sure why we have any laws at all. The gun lobby is always telling us that if you outlaw guns (which is not on the table) only criminals will have them. But we have laws against murder and yet, only criminals commit murder. Using the gun lobby logic, if you can’t prevent every crime, there is no point in making any effort to reduce crime at all. I would love to see members of the gun lobby spout there drivel at an actual officiated competetive debate.

    1. except, just like the police, criminal law is largely there as a framework to punish, not prevent – and /most/ gun control law proposed doesn’t present anything that would have any kind of  preventative effect to it, only provide more counts on which to punish against. Ban scary-looking ‘assault rifles’ – even though they are exceptionally rarely used in actual crimes, for example.

      (most gun control law proposed also demonstrates a willful ignorance of the functionality and construction of firearms as well, but that’s a different story)

      1. If only people who knew about guns would acknowledge the wisdom of reasonable regulation on firearm ownership and help to inform the content of sensible and effective gun control policy.

        Instead they want to spew some black helicopter bullshit about how all registration schemes are the word of a shadowy conspiracy trying to confiscate their beloved guns.

        Not to mention that their lobby actively tries to prevent research on what effective gun control policy would look like.

        It’s almost enough to make me think this sort of argument is only ever made disingenuously.

        1. AND they actively reduce the funding so the laws on the books are poorly funded and then complain that we’re not even enforcing the laws we have. Smart if you’re a gun nut.

      2.  (most gun control law proposed also demonstrates a willful ignorance of
        the functionality and construction of firearms as well, but that’s a
        different story)

        Yes, gun fanatics come across as real geniuses most of the time….

    2.  I was thinking about this yesterday because it comes up in a lot of contexts.  Proposal is made to reduce X.  Objection: “That won’t eliminate X!”  Well duh. 

      It gets even more absurd with the “well, drug prohibition doesn’t decrease the amount of drugs on the street!”  Even ignoring the fact that it almost certainly does (the homeless weren’t drinking sterno during prohibition because of its excellent taste and smooth finish) by the same logic our laws against murder, theft, and rape are only increasing those things so we should repeal all such laws immediately as a harm reduction measure.

      All models are wrong.  Some models are useful.  This is not one of those models.

  9.  Ruben Bolling confuses car ownership, which is a privilege, with arms ownership, which is a right.

    1. Actually, car ownership is an (unenumerated) right.  The constitution explicitly says that the enumerated rights are not exhaustive of rights possessed by US citizens.  I point out above that if this were not the case the mere act of walking — which is not explicitly guaranteed by the constitution — would also have to be considered a privilege rather than a right.

      1. Which constitution are you talking about?  We’re concerned with the American one here, which is very unlike the one you seem to be referencing.

          1. Oh dear FSM.  You don’t have to be Antonin Scalia to use google, or pay attention in 8th grade civics class:

            “The plaintiff’s argument that the right to operate a motor vehicle is fundamental because of its relation to the fundamental right of interstate travel is utterly frivolous….and we have no hesitation in holding that this is not a fundamental right.” Miller v. Reed  

            “To begin with, plaintiff confuses the constitutional right to travel—itself not an absolute right—with the qualified privilege to drive an automobile. […] The Court would have thought that plaintiff had learned that rule from a teacher of basic civics, rather than having to hear it from a federal district court judge.”  Maxfield v. Corwin

          1. Yeah, that one.  The one you and me are stuck with, like it or not. And right now it’s interpreted, by the people we collectively authorize to be the final word on it, as bestowing an individual right to bear firearms as a means of countering potential government oppression, but not a right to drive.  It also protects a woman’s right to have an abortion, or anyone’s right to have sex with a member of the same gender, among other things.

            Don’t like those apples?  Tough noogs.  Amend the Constitution.  Or wait 15 or 20 years until a differently-comprised Supreme Court revisits whatever issue you disagree with and interprets the Constitution differently than its predecessors.  In the meantime, the rest of us –on both  sides of this particular issue –are going to live in reality, and work within the framework we have to work within.    Maybe you can get a bumpersticker or something while we do that.

          2. Hilarious that you mention a bunch of “rights” that have been strictly regulated, restricted, or in some cases don’t even exist. See gay marriage. Nice “love it or leave it” argument. It goes well with the rest of your fallacies, including the whopper that this “right” exists to protect us against the very government that is also in charge of regulating and overseeing the well regulated militia.

            The one you and me are stuck with, like it or not.

            Glad you admit that we don’t need the second amendment to protect us from oppressive governments.

    2. As has previously been pointed out, that actually strengthens his argument. Because of that thing what you said, actual confiscation of guns from legitimate law abiding owners is less likely than it would be for automobiles — and you have a stronger legal protection against it.

  10.  “wisdom of reasonable regulation” Is a slogan, a catch phrase. It’s to make you feel like you are doing something, which is worse then actually doing nothing at all. 

    1. Sure, and anti-gun control folks would never use a slogan or a catch-phrase in place of a real argument, right?

      “Cold, dead hands!”
      “Constitutional right!”
      “Registration always leads to confiscation!”
      “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people!”

      Need I go on?

    2. Preventing people from selling guns person to person with no background checks will make it more difficult for violent offenders to obtain guns and make it harder to make money straw purchasing guns for criminals. That’s definitely worse than nothing at all, if you’re a criminal looking for a gun. It’s also slightly worse than nothing if you’re a gun owner looking to sell your gun, and also you couldn’t care less that criminals can obtain guns through background-checkless  person to person transactions.

      1. I guess I don’t see how the idea you mention would work to combat straw purchasing on behalf of criminals.

        Barring a comprehensive Federal gun registry (exceedingly unlikely) accompanied by house-to-house inspections to ascertain that guns haven’t been illegally transferred (ditto), I can’t see how it’s enforceable.  

        I mean, if you’ve already gone so far as to make a straw purchase, you’re screwed anyway if caught.  

        1. If you think of a way mandatory background checks  will make it harder for people who would fail background checks to buy guns, I’m not sure you’re trying very hard.

          As for straw purchasing, it’s hard to prove. The difference between a straw purchase and ‘I bought it, decided I didn’t like it, and sold it’ is one of intent. It’s hard (it may be impossible) to prove intent, that you bought a gun with the intent of selling it. It’s really, really easy to prove that you sold a gun without a background check. 

          Under the current system, you can look at the volume of sales to find people who deal guns for criminals. Except those people can have multiple other people buy the guns to hide the volume, which means the gun may go through multiple levels of undocumented person-to-person transfers, all of which are difficult to prove straw purchasing intent. All of which will either now leave a paper trail. or be definitely-solidly-no-question-about-it unlawful.

          If your love of guns is REALLY about protecting yourself and your family, doing what you can to disarm the bad guys should be even more important than arming yourself. 

          Is mandatory background checks the ‘silver bullet’ which will fix all the problems ever? No. But it will do more good than harm.

  11. Why would anyone argue so much for having a gun?

    What is your lifestyle that it’s so important to be able to kill at 50 paces?

    But maybe they should allow every one to own a gun – but just one. You want an assault riffle? okay, but you have to sell the Glock.

    1. What is your lifestyle that it’s so important to be able to kill at 50 paces?

      50? Try a thousand. It’s important because it upsets sniveling, myopic urbanite man-babies. And incidentally, that thousand paces? That’s with a single-shot hunting rifle, a gun that will never ever be banned.
      You lose. Just saying.

  12. The Federal universal background check discriminates against medical cannabis patients. If it passes, Xeni will no longer be legally be allowed to own a gun, whether she wants one or not.

    Aaron Swartz, had he lived and been convicted of a felony, would also be banned from ever buying a gun. As would anyone else convicted of a felony, whether justly or not.

    How much do you trust the criminal justice system to determine who should lose their 2nd Amendment rights?

    1. The problem is with drug (and other unfair) laws, not with the idea that felons shouldn’t own guns.

    2. How much do you trust the criminal justice system to determine who should lose their 2nd Amendment rights?

      The criminal justice system is regularly used to determine who should lose any and all of their rights, up to and including their very lives.

      Unjust laws can and should be challenged. But enforcing law has always been the role of the criminal justice system.

  13. People who fear guns will use any excuse to try to demonize those who don’t.

    Substitute “love” for “fear” in the above sentence and it’s still true.

  14. If you concede the constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms, do we thereby conclude the constitution gives you the right to ANY weapon that now exists or could possibly be invented? Does it preclude the right of a citizen to own a nuclear weapon? Poison gas? A 50 cal? Disintegration rayguns? If you conclude that the constitution does not preclude the government from banning certain weapons from the hands of individual citizens, then you have no grounds to say that, as long as it allows SOME personal arms, it may not ban those it deems too dangerous to be in individual hands. And this doesn’t even get into the issue of a well armed militia. Still trying to figure out where the local one meets that all the gun nuts in my neighborhood belong to.

    1.  The constitution explicitly granted the rights to any and all weapons.  My great-grandfather owned cannon, real ones, which he inherited from his father, and he fired one off every 4th of July without any protest from the government.

      The idea was that in the US each and every citizen would be the defender of humanity and society, and not some special class(es) of jackbooted thugs equipped with weapons nobody else was allowed to have.

      1. Are you seriously suggesting that private citizens should have a legal right to own thermonuclear weapons?

        1. You guys sure do see whatever you want to see.

          The authors of the constitution were not familiar with nuclear bombs, so your post makes no sense in context.  The post you are replying to makes no suggestions, serious or otherwise, it is informative rather than polemic.  Look for a fight elsewhere.

          I personally am not only capable of designing and building a thermonuclear weapon, I can design and build an intercontinental delivery system, too.   Because I used to test them for living, you know, and honestly it’s not all that hard anyway.  Mostly a question of obtaining materials, and I know how to do that too.

          1. The authors of the constitution were not familiar with nuclear bombs, so your post makes no sense in context.

            Of course they weren’t, just as they were not familiar with the vast majority of weapons now protected under the Second Amendment. That was my freakin’ point. I was replying to these statements in particular:

            The constitution explicitly granted the rights to any and all weapons. […] The idea was that in the US each and every citizen would be the defender of humanity and society, and not some special class(es) of jackbooted thugs equipped with weapons nobody else was allowed to have.

            So we must conclude that either 
            A) This is no longer the case, 
            B) This was never the case, or 
            C) Nukes allowed for everybody!!

          2. Sigh.

            You no longer are permitted military-grade weapons, just as you are no longer permitted to speak entirely freely and you are no longer immune to search without cause or execution without trial.  The constitution and its amendments are historical records of what was once intended, they are no longer honored by the US government.

          3. Oh, please. Dry your tiny, white handkerchief. Most of the people in this country had almost no rights for most of the country’s history. Your nostalgia is very specific to a very small demographic.

          4. @boingboing-506774f849b3f6f756077ca458da621a:disqus : You seem to be doing an awful lot of dancing around the question of whether private citizens realistically should be permitted to own military-grade weapons. Seems to me either

            A) You do believe this, which means my original statement about nukes was right-on-the money, or

            B) You do not believe this, which means you are in agreement with those of us who think there need to be some limits on the Second Amendment.

            Your claim about the absolute nature of the rights originally enshrined in the Constitution is ahistorical and naive. For example, the First Amendment had limits on it from day one (such as slander) which were never explicitly stated in the document itself.

      2. Haha. Not true. Also all those armed citizens would be “regulated” and in service of  the state (the national guard), not some laughable army of right wing extremists.

        1.  “Not true” based on your personal relationship with the framers of the constitution, I guess, rather than the abundant documentary evidence…  are you sure you aren’t really Scalia?

  15. The argument in this comic makes complete sense, because there are not large numbers of people and politicians who openly express the desire for a complete ban on firearms, and they have not said they will take small steps to achieve that goal. Since such people do not exist, it is obviously  unreasonable to think that registration would lead to confiscation.

  16. Eliminate all corruption in the government. (your gov that is funding genocide, calls the kids they murder “enemy combatants, and imprisoning those who whistle blow against them) and then you can have ALL the guns. 

  17. Wow, reading this thread has made me realize how ridiculously tied to our “founding fathers” we are. I’m not anti- or pro- guns. I have no problem with someone who wants to have a rifle because he hunts for his food, for example. But you know what? Owning a gun isn’t a right. We invented guns; they don’t exactly fall in the same category as “liberty,” for example. And trying to figure out what the “founding fathers meant” begs the question “who gives a shit?” We treat those guys like some kind of infallible superhero team; the fact is, none of them had any clue what America, 2013 would be like and it’s impossible to guess what they would have done differently had they seen our way of life- so any argument based on the 2nd Amendment is ridiculous. It may have made sense in the late 1700’s, but that was a long time ago, and frankly, that damn amendment has caused more trouble than its worth. 

    People defend owning guns vehemently, yet accept all the other bullshit bureaucratic regulations that invade every aspect of our private life, from building a shed in your back yard to starting a business. If I have to wade through all that red tape for no good reason, I should most definitely have to wade through red tape for the very GOOD reason of making sure I’ll be a responsible gun owner. I’m all for living in a completely rule-free world of anarchy, but if we’re not going to try that one out for size, then shut up about gun regulations. They make a lot more sense than most of the bullshit prevalent in American society.

  18. Is registration the first step in outlawing all guns?  Or was the first step taken a long time ago when we were prohibited from owning our own personal nuclear weapons?  The “right to keep and bear arms” does not make distinctions about different weapons, it would appear at face value to be all-inclusive (perhaps someone should ask “Constitutional literalist” Antonin Scalia.)  AND if you believe that the 2nd Amendment exists so that we can protect against tyranny from our own government, then shouldn’t we be allowed to own nuclear weapons, since the tyrannical government can own them? 

    We have certain restrictions on the 1st Amendment– slander, truth in advertising, yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.   Clearly the 2nd Amendment is not absolute either, and all this debate is really about where to draw the boundaries.  Gun laws do not have to automatically lead to the government (a government of the people, by the people, for the people) confiscating all guns.

    1.  I prefer to turn it around and insist the government has no right to own nuclear weapons, but it’s a pretty hard rule to enforce.

      1. Much as I detest America’s fetish for all things military, there’s no way anyone could defend a nation of this size without SOME weapons (nuclear or otherwise) that are far too dangerous to entrust to private citizens. 

        1. If humans aren’t going to do it, where will you get these trustworthy robots?  Soldiers and politicians and cops are all private citizens and they clearly aren’t as trustworthy as the average guy.

          1. So you think an unregulated, unsupervised private citizen should be allowed to own and operate anti-aircraft guns and artillery and tanks and missiles and nuclear aircraft carriers? Because I’m pretty sure the U.S. military isn’t about to get rid of those things, nor am I convinced that they could get rid of those things without compromising our collective safety.

  19. Tom  has done much better work. Yes it can happen here

    and in fact

    Registration in fact does lead to confiscation of firearms from law abiding citizens, c.f Australia , the U.K. , New York above

    and of course many nations where its lead to extermination of unpopular
    groups (c.f Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany (Jews here not all Germans)

    2nd, while general car confiscation is unlikely, there are plenty on the Left who’d go for it if they could especially in urban corridors. You can search that if you like

    In general if someone in government wants to do something other than get rid of a law these days its bad and the proper answer is 8 of10 times at least NO!

Comments are closed.