November 23rd, 2004


Conner McCleod wouldn't like it

It seems there are moves afoot to outlaw swords, in order to combat crimes involving "knives or other sharp instruments".

This strikes me as a little strange, akin to outlawing rocket launchers because there are too many handgun shootings.

Being a person into swords, in that I've just got back from spending part of my evening wailing on my instructor with a (blunt) backsword (in controlled circumstances), I have a vested interest in not having my hobby outlawed, thanks very much. But it still strikes me as strange.

Knives. Y'know. Those things you have in your kitchen drawer that are, frankly, blunt enough to make slicing tomatoes a messy business, and you keep meaning to sharpen them. Yes, those. The implements that could be lethal if you happened to attack someone with them. They're not the sort of thing the general populace should have a reason to be carrying about on an everyday basis because, after all, they're kitchen knives.

Moving out of the kitchen to the garage (or wherever your toolbox lives). Stanley knives. Craft knives. Really sharp jobbies used for cutting carpet or lino or what-have-you.

Oh, and next to said Stanley knife in the toolbox? A handful of screwdrivers. Or, giving them a more descriptive identity, a collection of sharp implements.

There's a point here, somewhere (pun not intended, alas), which is that while there isn't exactly a lot of justification in carrying a sword into town with you of a Saturday night, nor is there much point: any mindless ned who wants to cause a bit o' damage is more likely to be carrying the same sort of hardware the entire population has stashed about the house. They're smaller, more concealable, and easier to get hold of. Not to mention more effective: kitchen knives are made to cut meat, etc. unlike the vast majority of swords in this country, which aren't made to hold an edge, never mind cut anything.

So, banning swords will be entirely uneffective against the crimes that triggered the proposals, but will be both hugely sensational and entirely unoffensive to the vast majority of the population, because it'll have no effect on them whatsoever. No effect, but looks good, and loses negligible votes. Pretty much the ideal political law, I'd say.

Being more serious than reactionary for a moment, what would I propose?

I dunno, really. I'm happy with the concept of needing a licence (assuming, of course, I could get one). I certainly don't see the need for being able to walk around in a public area wielding or wearing a sword, particularly a sharp one, except - because there's always an exception - for demonstrations, lessons, re-enactments, plays, etc. (And, in case you were wondering, the exception there is wielding/wearing; they're certainly not sharp.)

Oh, it's like street-parties, etc. You can't normally block the street, get pubs open longer and get ear-bleeding levels of volume from public PAs without causing some kind of bother, but if you go through channels, it's okay. Such a thing doesn't really appeal to me, but I'm happy with it as a compromise if it means that I can carry on being sensible while psychopaths who attack people with "sharp instruments" get sensible levels of justice applied to them.
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