Friday, June 13, 2008

Reporter Bemoans Canada's Lax Knife Laws

Not to be left out of the whole "evil knives" extravaganza, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports on the "easy availability" of knives (gasp!) and how they are fast becoming the "weapon of choice" after guns:
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."

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.
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.
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.

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.
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".

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.


Anonymous said...

I think the logic to the 'increase in assaults' thing is that just as many people will try to kill with knives as with guns, but since it's harder to kill with a knife you'll end up with more 'assaults' (and less murders).

Anonymous said...

It is not harder to kill someone with a knife in fact you would be very talented not to kill them. Their is practically no place on the body where you can put a knife in and cause a wound that is not life threatening.

Anonymous said...

This forum is very confusing. More law abiding citizens with weapons would mean less crime...
i carry a knife on me every day, i can easily flip it open with one hand using the thumb stud. when i go hunting i carry around a very powerful rifle and cops dont seem to care.

Anonymous said...

I do not think limiting how you can acquire a knife or even banning them will ever help! Knives are tools. Ban the gun people use knives..ban knives people will use other things.Ever watch a child who is not allowed to play with toy guns.They use whatever is in their hands and make the noise.