Monday, July 14, 2008

Brits, Learn to Eat Your Steak With a Spoon

So I was watching BBC America's version of BBC World News this evening, and they had an item about how the British government is going to crack down on violent crimes by... enforcing a ban on carrying knives.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown: "It is our intention that if you carry a knife you will be caught; if you carry a knife, you will be prosecuted; and if you carry a knife, you will be punished."

The Tories in opposition say even this is too soft, and wants long prison sentences for the crime of carrying a knife.

Articles here, here, here, and here detail things.

Now, I grant you this: over the past several years, the BBC says, violent crime in general and "knife crime" in specific have gone down. (Nonviolent crimes like burglary and home invasion skyrocketed after the nationwide handgun ban, and have stayed high.) I personally don't believe that this is directly caused by the handgun ban, though- but I admit that, presuming the BBC's reporting is accurate, violent crime is decreasing.

That said: Brits, the reason you've got a bunch of shocking stories about stabbings is that you've succeeded in taking guns away from your people. Taking away weapons is not going to stop those who want to kill. What it does do is make it harder for people to defend themselves.

If the following quote is credible, though, maybe the British government and police don't want people defending themselves when attacked anyway:

Karyn McCluskey, head of Strathclyde's Violence Reduction Unit, said knife crime was endemic and dated back to the "razor gangs" of the 1920s.

She said: "People give all sorts of reasons why they carry knives, including protecting themselves. But a knife is not a weapon of defence, it's a weapon of offence."

Well, guess what- there is no such thing as a purely defensive weapon. If a thing cannot be used offensively, IT'S NOT A WEAPON.

And you know what else? A knife happens to be a useful tool. Guns, I admit, are good for precious little aside from punching holes in things. Knives, on the other hand, can be used to cut, to clean, to trim, to pry, to whittle, to plane, to shave... and all of these things knives can do with much more precision or regularity than guns generally demonstrate in the hole-punching department.

There are many perfectly legal and socially acceptable reasons to carry a knife. Normally self-defense wouldn't be one of them- a knife is vastly, vastly inferior to a gun for self-defense. In a country where guns are almost completely illegal, though, a knife is about as good a second-best as is available- definitely better than pepper spray, and astronomically better than "cooperate with your attacker and give him what he wants."

But apparently PM Gordon Brown wants the useful pocket knife to be good for two to ten years in the pen:

"We will continue to make absolutely clear that carrying a knife is unacceptable in our society," he added.

Don't anyone tell him about the pen being mightier than the sword: then the Brits will outlaw the Bic and mandate that anyone who writes in anything other than pencil must be locked up for the good of society.

I swear, if it weren't for Jeremy Clarkson and the Pythons, I'd have no desire to ever visit England at all...

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