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Which is more dangerous: A pistol or an aerosol paint can?

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By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Samuel Colt patented the revolver in 1836. John Browning perfected the modern semi-automatic pistol in 1911. Edward Seymour invented aerosol paint cans in 1949.

Which is more dangerous?

To properly answer this question, one must add the measurement of time. At the point in time where one finds himself staring at the business end of either Mr. Colt’s or Mr. Browning’s inventions, one has to say the pistol is more dangerous.

Over a period of years or decades, I’ll suggest Mr. Seymour launched the greatest disservice to society.

While the Colt and Browning inventions garner the most headlines and debate, Seymour’s cursed paint cans have had a tremendous impact on the well-being and the general attitude of modern society.

While brandishing or pulling the trigger on a pistol can sometimes lead to criminal charges (target practice in approved venues is not a criminal act), the evidence left by the pushing of the nozzle on a paint spray can (except to paint Aunt Myrtle’s old lawn furniture) nearly always indicates a trespassing infraction, at least a misdemeanor, sometimes a felony, in all but the most liberal jurisdictions.

If you are ever near train tracks, you are witness to some of the vilest demonstrations of the use of the Seymour’s cans as hundred car trains roll by with all manner of expressions of contempt gracing their reachable surfaces, all done while in a condition of trespass.

Should you stroll by a statue that is out of favor, you’ll find it equally decorated with the most disgusting of crude expressions. Live in the poor urban districts, and this filth is on everything.

I am expecting it to show up on cars simply parked in lots or on the street someday soon. It is more virulent than typhoid and malaria.

This has spread around the world and is treated criminally in different ways around the world. In India, for instance, some have been imprisoned for long periods of time for committing the act of creating graffiti, the common term for this defacement.

You can do some searches online and find people arguing that graffiti serves some good purpose. I strongly and vehemently disagree.

Irrespective of the message, I personally find it disgusting, depressing and a personal source of rage. I expect others react with rage or resignation. It is as anti-societal as nearly anything I can think of, other than murder or assault. Compared to some other crimes, it is worse, for it is so permanent.

In a neighborhood where children see graffiti every day, how are they supposed to see beauty?

There is nothing uplifting about graffiti. When graffiti turns to pornography (I would argue it is all pornography), it robs children of their innocence. Graffiti makes beautiful things, even train cars, ugly.

Back to the title: Which is more dangerous? I have to say the aerosol paint can.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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