In this country we debate the right of individuals to own assault style weapons with large clips. We talk about concealed carry permits and licensing, about technical specifications and silencers.
In England, the debate is different. Every week Prime Minister David Cameron appears before the House of Commons to answer questions from the assembled MPs. It’s a raucous affair with lots of cheering and hooting. On March 13, 2013, a topic came up that was deadly serious. The discussion was whether to allow the carrying of certain weapons. The assumption is that if someone is “carrying” they are bent on committing a crime and should attract a prison sentence. There is now discussion as to whether there should be penalties for mere possession.
The weapon under discussion – a knife.
In 1689, the right to bear arms was protected in the British Bill of Rights. It ensured that only Parliament could restrict that treasured right, not the King. And Parliament has done its work. Since the 1950s, there have been a series of laws limiting knife design and possession.
One law forbids a folding knife with a blade more than three inches in length or a knife which opens automatically. Or, how about a folding knife with a locking blade? Nope. That’s illegal too, even if its blade is less than three inches. In some instances knives legal to own cannot be sold, making it all but impossible to legally acquire. Carrying a large knife for “self defense?” You’d be in trouble. Under the law, admitting you’re carrying such a knife for self defense indicates you intend to use the knife as an offensive weapon, albeit it in a defensive manner.
The UK is not alone in restricting its bladed weaponry. Many other countries have restrictions similar to Britain’s. Even in the US, there are restrictions against switchblades and certain daggers. But imagine if the debate here were about the deadly killing power of a four inch pocket knife.
Witness a different kind of democracy at work. Watch this video. At 59 seconds, the weapons discussion begins. In Britain, there are 6.2 firearms for every 100 people. Here, the number is 88.8. The UK has very tough gun laws. Even police officers are generally unarmed. The UK has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world – 0.07 per 100,000 inhabitants versus 3.0 in the U.S. That sets our gun homicide rate some 40 times that of Britain’s.
We don’t need to worry about our knives, we have our guns to protect us.