Standing behind the counter of his knife stall at a Mississauga flea market, Serge Cotrim whips open a Paratrooper pocket knife, revealing a menacing eight-centimetre blade. "It's not a switchblade," he says, slipping the foldable weapon back into his belt, "but it's pretty close."By the way, for those not fluent in metric, eight centimeters is just under three and a quarter inches. Truly "menacing", no? And "bargain-basement" priced, to boot.
It's illegal to sell or carry a switchblade in Canada, yet knife retailers can sell near-replicas such as the Paratrooper to any adult for bargain-basement prices. At Blades 4 You, the stall at the opposite end of the Dixie Outlet Mall's weekend flea market, the clerk happily lopped $15 off the price of a $45 hunting blade to make a sale.
Canada's knife laws are generally lax: Only a few types of blades are prohibited. The Criminal Code says that simply carrying a butterfly knife or a switchblade is considered a crime, but beyond that, a person in Canada can be charged only if he or she carries a legal knife with the intention of hurting someone, threatens someone with the knife or stabs someone.Gee, you mean someone carrying a knife "can be charged only if he or she" uses the knife to commit a crime? Sacré bleu! Intolerable!
Next, the "experts" weigh in:
Some experts point to Britain's strict gun laws to explain the surge in violent knifings. It's called the substitution effect, says Jack Levin, co-director of the Brudnick Center on Violence at Northeastern University in Boston.Whatever you say, Jack. And maybe the reporter took your words out of context (which I will admit is entirely possible). But, here's a question: why would the number of assaults rise, especially given your "evolutionary prohibition" hypothesis (which I think is correct, by the way), which would tend to make assaults less common? Substitution effects by themselves don't explain that, and your statements come across as, well, not entirely logical. Even for an "expert".
He has been watching the "fewer guns, more knives" phenomenon for years in the United States.
"When you're successful at limiting guns, you also open the door to more knives being used on the streets," he says. Mr. Levin says homicide rates tend to remain level as the number of assaults rise simply because it's harder to kill someone with a knife than a gun. [emphasis added]
"There may even be an evolutionary prohibition against stabbing or bludgeoning or strangling someone. That kind of up-close, personal contact may not be in our genes. But using a gun is as easy as dropping a bomb," he says.
But at least there is a voice of sanity amidst all the hoplophobic hand-wringing:
Despite all this, Staff Insp. Raybould says a ban on knives is not logical and will not solve the problem. If a criminal wants to hurt someone, he says, she or he is going to do it with whatever weapon is available. "Don't worry about the weapon, go after the person who uses it," Staff Insp. Raybould says. "If a person chooses to harm themselves (and others) and go and commit a criminal offence, we've got a place for them - it's called jail. Put them away for 20 years."Well said, Inspector.