Ed already covered the new “knife control” initiative in Great Britain yesterday, but there are a couple of other nuggets in the criminal knives story I wanted to hit. First of all, as Ed pointed out, we have knife control in the United States already, particularly in blue states like New York. Of course, those laws are enforced so rarely that it’s barely worth mentioning unless the knives in question are used in an actual assault. And even then, it’s generally the assault which is prosecuted because the knife charge is so trivial by comparison.
In London, however, the government is using the new knife ban to do far more than simply keep dangerous blades out of the hands of aspiring criminals. The legal concept of checking people to see if they are walking while (possibly) carrying a sharpened piece of metal is opening the door to a whole new class of stop and frisk searches. As the Free Beacon noted yesterday, this means that virtually anyone can be shaken down on the streets every time they step foot outside their door.
In the wake of London’s murder rate surpassing that of New York City for the first time, Mayor Sadiq Khan announced new knife-control initiatives in the city. He said London would increase police patrols, grant extra stop and search powers to police on certain patrols, and increase efforts to take people out of gangs by giving them job training. He reiterated the city’s position that there is no need for anyone to carry a knife.
“No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife,” Sadiq Khan said on Twitter. “Anyone who does will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law.”
If you thought it would take the long arm of the law some time to roll out such a policy, think again. The police in the Regents Park district of London wasted no time at all. On the very first day of the new anti-knife initiatives, they were up on their Twitter account boasting about one of the first scofflaws they’d brought to heel.
— Regents Park Police (@MPSRegentsPark) March 16, 2018
And this, from another verified law enforcement account.
— MPS Barnet (@MPSBarnet) March 20, 2018
Are you seeing this? One glance at the photo from the “crime scene” made me think that somebody had just mugged a handyman. They’re collecting pruning shears, screwdrivers and common household tools. There’s also zero indication that the suspect in question was involved in any sort of violent attack or intended to use the tools for anything other than what the manufacturer intended.
Assuming they have the same sort of crime problems in London society as we do in most of the United States, it seems clear that this trend towards banning additional, unconventional “weapons” can’t just stop with knives. (Or pruning shears for that matter.) I went back and glanced through some of the FBI murder records for this decade and looked up some of the other items which show up at homicide scenes.
Pulling the 2014 records for an example, as you would probably expect, guns came in at the top of the list, with 8,874 incidents involving firearms of all sorts. But there were an additional 1,732 murders done with “kives or other cutting instruments.” One assumes that the “other cutting instruments” category would cover the aforementioned pruning shears. So maybe the Brits are onto something here, eh?
But we can’t stop there. Another 549 killings were accomplished with “blunt objects.” The FBI lists “clubs and hammers” as examples, but the full list also includes baseball bats, crowbars and other potentially lethal things which your average human being can pick up and swing at somebody’s head. One might argue that under the right circumstances, your chances of killing somebody with a baseball bat are actually better than attempting to stab them with a knife with a six-inch blade.
The threat is real. Human beings with a violent nature who decide they want to harm someone will find a way. So should there be permits required to own and transport a baseball bat or cricket bat? Pretty much everyone who owns a car has some sort of tire iron in the back in case they get a flat. Those are all lethal weapons which are not only inside their vehicle, but they’re almost always concealed. And what about those hammers that I mentioned? They’ve been used in multiple murders. Hammer control, anyone? A quick look in my basement woodshop should be enough to send me up the river for a considerable stretch.
Where does this end? That same FBI table shows that in 2014 there were an additional 769 killings – more than with blunt objects – done using “personal weapons.” What does that mean? People who were killed by fists, hands or feet. But much the same as with lawfully owned firearms, huge swaths of citizens are out there in the public square on any given day with their work tools, tire irons, sporting equipment and bare hands, walking or driving around with no intention of harming or killing anyone unless they’re defending themselves from an attack.
How much personal property do we want the police searching you for and confiscating before someone rings the insanity alarm? First they came for the knife owners, and I did not speak out because I was not a knife owner. Then they came for the ball peen hammers, and there was no one left to speak for me.