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Scott Adams and friend. Photo credit:

Scott Adams is the man behind (or next to) Dilbert, the socially awkward engineer chronicled in the comic strip of the same name. Last week, in a blog post, Adams declared his supports legal gun ownership. The cartoonist empathized with the problems unarmed women face concerning sexual violence . . .

I can’t imagine being a woman living among men. It sounds horrible. For starters, there’s a stat that 20% of women in college will be sexually assaulted. Apparently it is dangerous for women to be around men … in general.

Contrast that with being a guy. When I encounter a dangerous situation, my first thought is to feel sorry for my future attacker. I’m smallish, so I calculate that once I get him down I’ll have to finish the job so he doesn’t get up again. I feel sorry for my would-be attacker even before I kill him in my imagination…..

If I were a woman, I would feel like a victim, or potential victim, 24-hours a day. I guess people can get used to anything, but I’m glad that isn’t on my list of things to worry about.

My question for the men: Do you ever feel in physical danger from other people?

My question for women: How often are you afraid of danger (from men) during a normal day?

The comic artist delivers his conclusion forthwith:

On a related topic, I favor legal gun ownership as a psychological defense against the health stress caused by the bullies, sexual offenders, and psychos living among us. I acknowledge the trade-offs and risks of legal gun ownership and regret every unnecessary gun casualty. But on the plus side, I never want to feel afraid of anyone whose address I can find. That country doesn’t work for me.

I wonder what the rate of bullying is in England compared to America. If we don’t know that difference, and why, then the math of gun control is not yet complete. Bullying ruins lives too. I’m not saying that should be the single biggest factor in gun control, but without that data, how can you form a complete opinion?

In the (predictably) active comments section that followed this post, Adams doubled down, stating: “I would say guns keep small people safe, regardless of gender.”


Adams’ pro-gun polemic represents something of an evolution on the issue. Previously, Adams suggested he was okay with “common sense” gun control measures, such as holding gun owners financially liable for the actions of those who use their firearms to commit a crime. Some of his comics suggest something less than a full-throated endorsement of the second amendment.

While it’s cool that Adams is now more than somewhat supportive of the right to keep and bear arms, what’s with the all the talk about feelings? Shouldn’t gun ownership be based on rational thought? Well . . .

Feelings played an important role in my decision to buy my first handgun. Turning Jeff Cooper’s admonition on its head, when I went in the gun store, I had a sense that owning a piano would make me a bit of a musician. Firearms training quickly disabused me of such thoughts. But without them I might not have bought a gun in the first place.

Perhaps getting good people on board with gun ownership is more important than making sure they’ve got everything right. We all have to start somewhere. If I hadn’t made a decision based on a half-considered feeling ten years ago, I’d just be another low-information voter on the subject. Scott Adams, if you’re interested in telling us more of your thoughts and experiences with firearms — and perhaps joining us at the range — our contact info is over in the right margin. Welcome!

DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.

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  1. So people should be able to own guns because . . . women? It sounds scary to him that women have to live around men? Pardon me for asking, but do you believe the ovaries on that guy?

    • Actually, I think he’s got a point. It’s an interesting take. Basically, the reason I and my girlfriend bought firearms… She had a fear of someone stronger being able to harm her. She got firearms, and now she is less afraid of them. I bought firearms for a similar reason, though not men per se, but animals. We hike in bear country, and I would prefer not to try my hand at my bear negotiation skills.

      • “We hike in bear country, and I would prefer not to try my hand at my bear negotiation skills.”


        That’s mighty intolerant of a Grizzly Bear’s ‘feelings’, not to mention Bear culture Tommycat .

        Just stand there and shriek in pain and horror as you’re being torn to shreds.

        After all, that wilderness was the Bear’s to begin with…


        • A key moment occurred during the oral arguments in Heller. A justice asked the solicitor general if he didn’t imagine that the People at the time of ratification understood that they had a right to keep and bear arms to defend themselves against hostile Indians and fauna. At that moment, the audience understood that the tide had turned on individual right; and it could not turn around from there.

          Almost all the population lives in places where there are no bears. Or, maybe I should say that there are ALMOST NO bears. But, just how low must the probability drop before we can say that there are “no bears” where I live? 0.01? 0.001? 0.0001? . . .

          We lived 25 years in a NJ suburb 25 miles west of Manhattan. In the 20th year, I observed 4 bears ambling across the road in a neighboring borough. Is my former home in NJ free of bears? Who decides whether the place I reside is bear-free or that I have a right to bare arms up to the task of self-defense against bears?

          How about dogs off their leashes?

          How about thugs?

    • Unless I’m missing something that you aren’t, that isn’t his point. As discussed here and elsewhere, guns are the great equalizer. A 90# woman is unlikely to with a fight with a 180# man. An armed 90# woman is just as likely to win a fight as a 180# man – and I’d argue more likely, as she will feel fewer qualms about using it (I think the man would plan on overpowering physical size and strength, she would plan on the weapon).

    • Sometimes they gotta land the airplane first before you can point out they’re at the wrong airport. He’ll never get there if you just let him crash the plane, and even if his reasoning is wonky, there’s still a chance he can make it there for the right reason.

    • As a former cubicle dweller myself I have seen thousands of “Dilberts” on the walls. I’d love to be a fly on the fuzzy walls to see their reaction.

    • His point was that women are on average smaller and less physically intimidating than men, so his assumption is that they would tend to be afraid around bigger stronger aggressive (men) people. Assuming not those who watch “The View” or wear eye liner and skinny jeans…

      My wife carries. Not because she is afraid, but the reality is unless you are a Jedi Knight, you can’t defend the sucker punch. Doesn’t matter if I am carrying a 1911, if someone attacks me from behind, I may not be able to draw. Many videos out there where a group of attackers targets a couple and what do they do? Beat down the guy, usually leaving the woman (who is usually crying, but sometime trying to pull one of the attackers off). More than likely she will be very close and get a few shots off before they can react. Most will scatter like roaches. Several will fall dead. But the beat down will stop and I will be able to draw my weapon.

      My backup gun is on my wife. She has my six.

  2. Anti-gunners have been using “reptilian brain” principles to advance their ranks- put simply, people respond strongly to the most basic of emotions hardwired into the depths of our little brains: to be safe, to feel safe. What is safest? What if we could do a relatively simple thing and make people safer? Safer from crime?

    Although (in my opinion) a distasteful strategy compared with more intellectually honest arguments, the same can be used in favor of gun rights. Colion Noir showed a bunch of anti gun people a video vignette where a single woman comes home and settles down on her sofa. All of a sudden, a man smashes her front door. The simple question: Should she be able to have a gun in this situation? Which would serve her better in that situation, a gun or a phone? What if there were two intruders? Or four?

    Same thing. Very effective.

  3. “there’s a stat that 20% of women in college will be sexually assaulted.”

    There’s also a stat that 80% of cartoonists are morons. I just made it up, which makes it just as factual as most “stats” we hear about.

    There are plenty of good reasons to acquire the tools and training to defend ourselves from predators. We don’t need made-up stats to argue our point.

    • Anyone using the thoroughly discredited 1 in 5/80% college campus figure immediately loses all credibility with me.

      According to the FBI, rapes/sexual assaults have dropped significantly over the past two decades, and colleges are among the lowest rates of all. Highest rates are in -surprise, surprise, surprise– low income/high crime neighborhoods with minority women at highest risk.

    • That 20% stat is so bogus that it’s very likely that my wife “sexually assaulted” me last weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  4. Well, he needs to open his eyes. Statistically a man is three times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than a woman

    • And “Alice the Engineer” is the most violent character in his “Dilbert” Comics. Well…Catbert may give her a run for her money…

  5. “It sounds horrible. For starters, there’s a stat that 20% of women in college will be sexually assaulted. Apparently it is dangerous for women to be around men … in general.”

    Except… that percentage is totally bogus. It includes as “assault” everything from ‘some random guy grabbed your ass at a party’ to ‘someone made an unwanted advance’ to ‘you woke up with someone you regretted sleeping with’. Not to mention the sample size, the selectivity of that steaming pile of junk science is beyond laughable. Much like the bogus 400K figure for human trafficking that was fabricated, put out, then completely discredited, this 20% number is utter nonsense.

    Let’s be clear. It can be dangerous out there for women. Bad things can and do happen, they should be ready and able to defend themselves. But this latest round of propaganda that1 in 5 will be sexually assaulted at college is pathetic scaremongering and carries a very dangerous agenda.

    • Nobody believes the 20% number…. What parent would send their daughter to college if they really believed that number?

      • I see no percentage in challenging statistics on rape. No matter what one might say it’s apt to enrage the audience.

        A more productive line of reasoning is to question what conclusions we might be able to reach from data on victims. A million rapes is a statistic; but each of them – even a single rape – is a tragedy. Does even a single victim have a right to self-defense? Does she have a right to the means of an effective self-defense?

        The audience has to choose:
        – deny that any possible victim has any right to a means of an effective self-defense; or,
        – make a relative claim for the rights of males to survive an incomplete pass as a ratio of statistics.

        The former takes you down one course of argumentation.

        The latter takes you down another. What really is the ratio of “incomplete pass” attempts vs. “rapes”? This isn’t going well for the hoplophobes.

        Go ahead: Argue for the proposition that:
        – lots of testosterone-poisened boys try to steal a kiss and that women are so outraged that they will always react by blasting away.
        – there really aren’t many “real” rapes.
        – there really aren’t many “serious” threats that women are outraged by – that they consider to be real threats.
        – there are far too many impulsive violent women who would shoot to kill without sufficient justification.
        – there is no effective criminal justice system to protect innocent males from unjustified attacks by women.
        – women will not be held to the traditional standards-of-evidence to make their self-defense case to a jury.

        Feminist hoplophobes can be taught – through debate – that they can’t have it both ways. They can’t complain about rape and praise the prudence of women while at the same time assert that women have no need to defend themselves, and would behave irresponsibly if they carried weapons.

      • So you “see no percentage in arguing the statistics on rape”? Really? So you believe we should accept Bloomberg’s numbers of “school shootings” to be accurate as well?

        “Rape” is a defined thing. Just like *actually* climbing the stairs, as opposed to working out on a piece of gym equipment with a suggestive name.

        Classifying an unwanted ass-grab, or an unrequited smootch as ‘sexual assault’ does a gross injustice to someone who has actually been sexually assaulted.

        • That is correct. With respect to the singular crime of rape, I see no point in arguing about the statistics.

          With respect to every other statistic I WOULD argue about the statistics. In the US we have pretty complete homicide data. Would be useful to have more depth in the contexts and demographics. But, these are at least pretty complete and less room for nuances.

          All the various other crime classifications are apt to be more or less subject to debate on diverse grounds.

          Rape is a really peculiar crime given the reluctance for victims to file a police report and given the broad range of degrees of sexual assault and the parties respective claims about what happened. Why get ourselves embroiled in a debate about whether the rate of the crime of rape is rising or falling; whether the rate is too high or not high enough?

          There is a societal consensus that rape is a crime that deserves punishment. This crime occurs so often that it is a substantial concern to society. Victims have a right to defend themselves. We PotG argue that victims have a right to the means to an effective defense. We PotG argue that potential victims must not be disarmed by prior-restraint – i.e., by forbidding them from carrying outside their homes.

          Let the hoplophobes make whatever claims they wish. Do they dare to make a claim that prevailing rape rates are NOT high enough to be of social concern? Or, that rape rates are declining? Or that rape reports are exaggerated? That accused rapists deserve the benefit of the doubt? That women have poor judgement and may fire guns at men because they misjudge his intentions?

          If and when they dare we can simply respond by asking for evidence that their claims are well-supported. They will simply make themselves look foolish.

          We have no obligation to make assertions about the rates of rape claiming that they are high enough to deserve societal concern.

  6. Some people have trouble sleeping. They get sleeping pills. That’s an objective response.

    Some people get anxiety attacks. They get tranquilizers. That’s an objective response.

    Some people feel scared of the world around them. Getting a gun can be an objective response to those feelings. Just because the issue is feelings doesn’t mean that getting the gun isn’t a rational decision.

    • Just spitballing here but, maybe getting a gun and practicing with it would go a long way towards helping those sleepless, nervous people feel better.

    • It’s speciously rational. Getting a gun, just to feel safer, is a dangerous decision. Without a modicum of proficiency and some pre-commitment as to the use of the firearm, you’re asking for trouble.

      That firearm-as-talisman mentality is apt to drive you into unsafe, avoidable situations, or escalate lesser encounters into serious ones. It can fracture all resolve to act should a firearm then be needed. All of which would render one quite a bit less safe than had a firearm not been introduced in the first place.

      The primary purpose of a self defense firearm is to deploy potentially lethal force to stop a a serious, even lethal, threat when that threat presents. Day-to-day, actively sought feeings of all enveloping safety by way of a firearm are a distraction, from that worthy purpose, and will likely work counter to it.

  7. Aaaaand a whole whack of people totally miss the significance of a really popular cartoonist adored by corporate drones and professionally unhappy people the world over (which is what? 80% of us?) coming out in favour of gun rights. Instead we choose to ridicule his statements, call him an idiot, and shit all over his stats despite him using them to our benefit.

    Are we really *this* stupid? Because if we are, it is a miracle that Americans still have the Second Amendment.

    • Thank you. It’s like a circular firing squad facing inward. The truth it seems has already made itself clear to the cartoonist, let him continue to advance without being hacked at by a bunch of keyboard commandos.

    • Those survey numbers *are* completely bogus. They’re doing a lot of harm and need to be called out for the crap they are. But they don’t invalidate his reasoning.

      Adams is a very smart guy who understands human nature and has strong reasoning skills — and through the exercise of empathy and logic (what we might call “going full human,” to turn a certain meme on its head) he has reached a perfectly reasonable conclusion from the evidence at his disposal, despite the SJW attempts to frame it otherwise.

      To sum up: crappy evidence, strong conclusion. Hats off to him.

    • +1000 – Someone of national stature comes out FOR gun ownership and the ninies here in TTAG get their panties in a twist… for what? Because he forgot to dot an “i” or cross a “T”??? Really? You people should get your self-righteous heads out of your asses long enough and stop looking at this gift horse in the mouth.

      • Absolutely correct. Those PotG who will “eat our young” do as much, if not more, damage to the cause as Bloomberg.

        We are trying to convert hoplophobes one small step at a time. They don’t all have a great epiphany and become born-again-gunnies. Most just gradually open their minds and inch their way toward neutrality and then seeing some net social utility. What should we do? Shoo them away from our camp?

        Dilbert gets millions of impressions every day. So, let’s turn his “Dad” into an enemy? Brilliance; shear brilliance! (For the intended reader, that is sarcasm. If I didn’t spell it out you would take it as a compliment.)

    • Your sons gun rights aren’t going to do him any good if he’s convicted of “sexually assaulting” his college girlfriend if she decides the next morning she didn’t like the previous nights hook-up.

  8. Pro-Gun or not, anybody willing to open with a well-known and repeatedly debunked myth about college rape, is not somebody I want on my side.

  9. I’m with you Gideon. I’m a big old guy(used to be much bigger and badder). I never thought I needed a gun until 5 or 6 years ago(even though I shot some as a kid). I can’t imagine being a little gal. Props to this cartoonist(even though I am not a fan of Dilbert).

    • Indeed sir. I had a run-in with a meth-head a few months ago that ended up in a DGU. As a man it was a harrowing experience. As a woman of slight build it would have been more so.

      • “I had a run-in with a meth-head a few months ago that ended up in a DGU.”

        I for one would like to hear about that. Learning from others experiences, and all.

        If you write up the particulars, there’s a good chance TTAG would run it if you submit it…

        • …and a good chance he will be criticized for not being defensive enough or politically proper enough or….

        • “…and a good chance he will be criticized for not being defensive enough or politically proper enough or….”

          That goes with the TTAG territory.

          From just the comments of his I’ve read here, he doesn’t seem to have thin skin, he’ll defend his position.

          It’s his decision to make. I’d like to hear about that encounter.

  10. Maybe he took the long way around the barn but he wound up in the right place so let’s quit dumping on Dilbert, and welcome another SA supporter.

  11. Sounds no more substantial than Mr. Adams having engaged in a little mental masturbation.

    This time, about firearms. This time, kinda sorta in favor of them. This time, weakly, awkwardly, and somewhat misguidedly coming down on the pro-2A side. Next time, who knows? Not that it really matters.

    He was just going for a bit of emotional ejaculation. For whatever reason, he had firearms on his mind and this is the result. Next time, it’ll be a different topic, or a different take on this one. He’s clearly not serious, though, and hasn’t thoughtfully considered this subject, which is fine, too.

    He’s experimenting a skosh and that’s perfectly healthy. I just wish he’d do so in private, not online, and not to a copy of “America’s 1st Freedom.”

  12. Hmmmm… Am I the only / first one to notice the contradiction between the quoted blog post and the cartoon? In the cartoon, it’s fairly clear (to me) that he does NOT believe American citizens can be trusted with firearms. Rather, he MOCKS the private ownership of guns by suggesting the elimination of ammunition and not trusting Charleton Heston with string.

    • racer88, you might want to consider that the blog post was from last week and the cartoon dates back 21 years. Maybe Mr. Adams has actually changed his mind about one or two things in the last couple of decades.

      • Ah! It might have helped if I had noticed the date on the cartoon!
        As Emily Litella (Gilda Radner on SNL) would say… “Never mind.” 😉

        Yep… people can change their minds upon being enlightened. 🙂

      • I took the cartoon as mocking the extremists who don’t trust anyone with anything — not really pro-gun, but making fun of the hysteria.

    • If you knew more about the characters, you’d understand the dog’s sentiments. Basically his desire is always for control and personal profit, never having anyone’s interests but his own in mind. This character isn’t speaking of the author’s ideals, instead it’s just a damn cartoon character.

      • Exactly. Dogbert is the ultimate dog in a “dog eat dog” world, a sort of “incanination” of the spirit of the pursuit of (economic) power.

        • I don’t think it matters a lot whether a comic character is a noble or a rogue. He may be either: consistently; or, intermittently alternating between the two. The observer is sucked into the comedy and wants to enjoy the emotions that come up for him(her).

          The audience goes away from each (successful) comedy experience in a somewhat altered state. Rarely, the altered state rises to the level of an epiphany. Usually, the altered state is not more than a slightly – or moderately – altered viewpoint on a familiar object.

          Think of it as a gemologist who has always studied a diamond via a single facet. He will see the fissures of the stone to be consistent. Then, one day, he looks at the same gem through an adjacent – or more distant – facet. He will see different fissures that he hadn’t seen before. His perception of the specimen is likely to change.

          I think we PotG need to strive to induce voters to look at the right of self-defense and the means of an effective self-defense through more and different facets. In so doing we will gradually enrich their perception of these topics. For many, we may merely soften their animosity to RKBA; for others, we begin a long course of inquiry that may lead to support for the RKBA.

  13. It took him a lot longer than it did me. My parents were Democrats and when I graduated high school I was as liberal as they come, but I had two things in my favor, one was a love of learning and a keen interest in the history of this country and the other was an expectation that logic was how you came to the right conclusion. A friend recommended reading Jeff Cooper so I did, and what he had to say took. My first cartridge firearm was an IMI Skipper which was a 1911 pattern 45 auto that was amazingly accurate and it has been one gun after another since then. One fellow I love to quote says if you aren’t a liberal when you are young you have no heart and if you aren’t a conservative when you are older you have no brain.

  14. Let’s cut Mr. Adams a little slack … he has the right idea and is heading in the right direction. We need everyone on our side that we can get.

  15. I actually believe in Common Sense Gun Laws, Gun Safety, and Gun Control; just my definitions are a little different than the liberal Bolsheviks.
    Moms Demand Action could actually be a good thing in a different sense.
    I know I would like a Ghost Gun with an overcapacity magazine and a 30 caliber clip that could be emptied in half a second.
    I enjoy being an active shooter at the gun range and being a gunman at the range is cool also.

  16. This brings up a valid point. If they can play the “feel” game so can we. As a bonus we can back it with real figures too.

    People view the world through different lenses, so next time someone says they “feel” unsafe with people carrying guns, it’s always possible to counter with something like “if my son is at school, and someone decides to go on a murderous rampage I would feel better if there was a person with a gun there who could protect him and his peers.” After that, back it up with a logical statement about how CCW holders are by and large far less likely to be convicted of a crime than the general population.

  17. To everyone dumping on Mr. Adams. What you’re seeing is the slow but inevitable transformation of a former antigunner into a full blown supporter of the Second Amendment and gun rights. For some of us it can take awhile. It took more than a decade for me to go from ” Why do you NEED” to “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!”

    Scott Adams has taken the first mental steps. He now knows on a deep level that gun control is wrong. Now he’s working around a lifetime of ideology that disagrees with that fundamental premise.

    Believe it or not, a major shift in personal beliefs like this doesn’t come easy. It’s something people struggle with. I ‘m just glad he’s come to the conclusions he has, whatever his reasoning.

    • Boxilar, thank you for your comment. I have a question for you:

      How did the various forms of rhetoric from the PotG impact you?

      Among these:
      – ad hominem attacks on gun controllers
      – vulgarity
      – quoting the 2A
      – questions provoking thought about victims who might have protected themselves
      – questions provoking thought about victims who successfully protected themselves
      – recolections of genocides and decodes
      – etc.

      I imagine some of these served to move you along the path to an epiphony whereas others were counterproductive. If we knew which were which from your experience, and that of others who have flipped, we could hone our rhetoric.

  18. Dilbert’s dad?

    You’ll see Dilbert’s mom from time to time but you’ll never see his dad. He’s at the all-you-can-eat buffet at the mall. He’s been there for over 20 years because he wants to see if they really mean “all you can eat”.

    • Minor nit

      It’s the all you can eat, 24/7 buffet. So he never has to leave. That last part (never closing) is key.

      In any case “Dilbert’s ‘Dad’ ” here is a reference not to the buffet squatter, but to the cartoonist who draw the strip, Scott Adams.

  19. Never tell a woman what she can and can not do. Does this mean that the is still common sense out there?
    No double standards put the DC politicians on Obamacare and SS.Thanks for your vote.Pass the word.

  20. I love that strip. Of course having the option to be armed for self-defense helps to level the odds, for small statured folk, vs big attackers.

    What surprises me is how anyone, much less one of the POTG could take exception to such common-sense.

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