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Safety dance

Dangerous Dan notes that Britons, already enjoying some of the world's toughest gun control laws, may next find themselves facing — you guessed it — knife control.

Actually, knives are already heavily regulated in Britain. You can't carry one around with you in public. But now, incredibly, there are calls to ban ordinary kitchen knives... from the kitchen. The BBC reports:

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase — and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.
The idea that people cannot be trusted around potentially dangerous items seems to be widespread in British society — or at least that segment of it that deems itself fit to recommend new laws for everyone else to obey. Recently, I posted about a British proposal to install eletronic speed limiters on all motorcycles and scooters. The ultimate goal appears to be the creation of a secure environment in which individuals, despite their irresponsible and dangerous natures, can do themselves no harm — kind of like a baby's playpen, or a padded room in an insane asylum.

Of course, such attitudes are not found only in Britain. I previously posted about how, after a rash of knife murders, one city in Japan proposed a bill requiring mandatory owner registration of all knives with a blade longer than 15 centimeters. (How this was intended to reduce crime escapes me.) Once again, instead of requiring that people control their own behavior, the state tries to remove the possibility for them to do wrong.

Sometimes, such efforts aim to elminate the risk not only of physical harm, but of financial loss. In this post, I quoted Yale computer science professor David Gelernter on how the Democrats don't trust average U.S. citizens to manage their own money:
How could anyone be opposed in principle to private investment accounts within Social Security? ...How on Earth could anyone be opposed in principle to letting taxpayers manage a minuscule fraction of their own money (their own money, dammit!) if they want to? Because private accounts violate the Infantile American Principle, so dear to Democratic hearts. Little kids should turn over their cash to the Big Smart Government for safekeeping.
Banning kitchen knives, limiting morotcycle speeds, and blocking private accounts all suggest a contempt for the abilities of ordinary citizens that is fundamentally in opposition to the basic premise of democratic society. As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "In free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns." Those who would have government protect us from ourselves assume the people are not the superiors of the state, but its wards.

At the Volokh Conspiracy, Dave Kopel posts on the British kitchen-knife proposal, and includes links to some serious looks at gun and knife control laws. (Found via Rajan Rishyakaran.)

The New York Times, in an article that seems pretty dismissive of the proposed knife ban, offers this stunning quote from one of the researchers:
Dr. Hern said that "we came up with the idea and tossed it into the pot" to get people talking about crime reduction. "Whether it's a sensible solution to this problem or not, I'm not sure."


Anonymous said...

Well written! Padded cell, you're so right!

Devolution of ordinary man's weapons, next they'll take away our bows and arrows, while govts and terrorists get suitcase WMDs.

I remember the same frustration when helmet laws, seatbelt laws and non-smoking laws crept into the US. The suppressives want to stop everything, even a Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride with my hair flowing in the wind.

Will they be content when we've all become solid pebbles saying "yes, masser" to the big rock?


Posted by Proud Camel smoking, Non seatbelt wearer

Anonymous said...

I had to go over to England for work several years ago, and since I knew I would be opening many boxes, I brought my collapsible pocket knife that featured a fierce 2 1/2" blade.

When I whipped it out to show it to one of wife’s acquaintances over there he was amazed, it would me like someone showing off his collection of anti-aircraft missiles in the states. Not only are you not allowed carrying such an item, they cannot even be acquired!

Posted by Evil Sandmich



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