Saturday, June 7, 2008

Irish to Ban Swords

As someone with a longstanding interest in edged weapons, I find it simultaneously interesting and dismaying to watch the demonization of such weapons, both here, and particularly in places such as the United Kingdom. Many of the same flawed arguments advanced by those opposed to guns are often advanced by those opposed to knives.

To the anti-gun and anti-knife crowd the concept of holding the sentient human being, rather than the inanimate object, accountable for criminal misuse of those objects remains an elusive concept. The inanimate object has no will of its own and can by used for either good or evil; a gun or knife can be used for self-defense, a moral good, as well as to commit evil acts such as murder. Punishing mere possession eviscerates this important distinction, and disadvantages law-abiding, peaceful citizens by denying them effective tools for morally good uses, e.g., self-defense, while simultaneously doing little to deter violent criminals from such possession or use of such tools for morally bad purposes. Simply put, violent criminals are able to avoid such legal restrictions because they can avail themselves of the ultimate "loophole" (a word endlessly bandied about by the anti-weapon folks) -- they don't obey the law!

Now we learn that Ireland may soon ban swords in an effort to combat "knife crime". The more troubling aspect of the proposed legislation is the reported increase in law enforcement's powers to detain and search anyone "suspected of carrying knives":
THE sale of swords is to be banned under Government plans to crack down on knife crime.

And the Garda Síochána has invited tenders from the private sector to come up with a “focused and targeted” awareness campaign aimed at people carrying knives.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said he will implement the recommendations of a review on knife law carried out by Garda commissioner Fachtna Murphy.

Mr Ahern said legislation, to be published in the coming months, will:

* Prohibit swords.

* Increase Garda powers to search people suspected of carrying knives.

* Allow more knife offences to be prosecuted in the higher courts, which attract higher penalties.

The minister told the Dáil last week there were strict prohibitions and severe penalties on knives under current law. But he said the review recommended further changes. [emphasis added]

So, by the minister's own admission, there exist "strict prohibitions and severe penalties" on the books already. Seems like the government already has the tools needed for their "crack down on knife crime," doesn't it? Now, if they can only get the criminals, who by definition don't obey the law, to ... wait for it ... obey the law!, they'll be all set.

These ever-increasing infringements on personal liberty are the natural result of targeting the inanimate object as if it were the source of evil, rather than the person wielding the object to commit evil acts. Combine that with the natural inclination of politicians everywhere to consolidate power in the governments they control and away from the people, and the always present tendency is towards loss of personal liberties.

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