There Is Such Thing as Too Much “Weapons” Regulation

Over the years I have expressed in multiple comments under various articles on FTB that whilst strict regulations of access to weapons are necessary, the strength of the regulations should be proportional to how effectively enforced they can be. Regulating automatic guns makes sense because they are difficult to manufacture and conceal. That makes it possible to effectively limit access to them and enforce the regulation in a meaningful way.

On the other hand I have always seen trying to regulate knives, swords and similar as absurd because such regulations just cannot work as intended. Making a functional knife or even a sword is trivial, all you need is a piece of cord, a flat bar of any type of steel whatsoever, and half an hour work with angle grinder. Sure, it will not be beautiful, and if the steel is crap it will not hold an edge, but that does not matter, it will be effective murder weapon of equal quality to what was used most of history in warfare. And concealing a knife on your body under clothing is trivial.

UK has nevertheless decided to pass such a meaningless regulation:

Luckily I am not living in UK and CZ has not jumped the shark yet and knives are completely unregulated here. But should such laws pass here, I could perhaps get into problems when trying to buy certain tools for my hobbies – for example I intend to work with leather at some future date and for that I will need to either buy or make a few specialized cutting instruments, aka knives. I live in rural area and I definitively have no corner shop around that could supply those things on demand.

I feel sorry for all the antique weapons dealers and all the knifemakers in UK – like the excellent Tod Todeschini, whose carefully build livelihoods can be destroyed in an instant with ham-fisted regulation.

I might add that to my knowledge this regulation has been proposed and written by conservative politicians. Similarly like the US knife regulations, which are stricter than firearms regulations in some states, were too written by conservatives. Laws that are either impossible to effectively enforce or are impossible not to break serve no other purpose than to give police a pretense to for example harass people of inconvenient shade of skin at will, nothing more.

And just for “fun” (which is not funny at all) I will list all the object that could be used as murder weapons and are in my line of sight right now, near my computer:

  1. Stabbing – screwdrivers, shears, pencils, ball-pens and admittedly a dagger that I use as letter opener.
  2. Cutting – a carpet cutter and again my dagger.
  3. Garotting – USB cable seems strong enough and definitively the camera strap.
  4. Blunt instruments – the camera (not the first choice of course), two heavy mugs, two ornamental stones, a few potted plants.

Not to mention the about 8 kitchen knives of various sizes on the kitchen counter behind my left shoulder.

If I were to go to my workshop or my garden shed I would have a wide choice of multiple potential cutting or stabbing weapons, blunt instruments and pole-arms. Should I decide to go and join a gang, I would not be unarmed. Indeed I could arm the whole gang. So could each of my neighbours.

Whilst firearm deaths can be linked to firearms availability, stabbing deaths cannot be linked to knives availability. Because stabbing instruments are everywhere and will be everywhere, always. As Sam Vimes’ maxim states “Everything is a weapon if you decide to think of it as such”. Addressing knife crime needs to address the root cause. And I do not think I am stabbing in the dark here when I say that has more to do with impoverishment and disempowerment than with sending knives per post.


  1. jrkrideau says

    Probably going to be a complete fiasco, at least for the little first while, if the Cons don’t come to their senses. I had heard of this being proposed a few years ago and thought it had died down. IIRC, a couple of doctors wanted to limit blades to 15cm.

    We, in Canada, had reasonably stringent gun legislation brought in about 15–20 years ago. I was happy to see handgun legislation tightened up but I had the feeling that the long gun legislation seemed over the top. And as a friend of mine who shoots competitively used to moan, “Whoever is writing these regulations does not even know what a gun looks like”. The long gun registry was dropped a few years ago.

    I have worked as a professional cook; knives are just another tool in the kitchen. I currently only have 4 or 5 “serious” knives but I need them depending on what is for dinner.

    There may be a lot of hungry people in the UK if there is a real crack-down. I can just see the parliamentary dining room announcing a “very” limited menu if the cooks don’t have any knives. That might get MPs attention.

    I suspect that the UK Gov’t will work out some way of exempting a lot of edged tools and may just limit the restrictions to a) carrying BIG/Obvious attack knives or b) demanding that they be carried safely.

    And I do not think I am stabbing in the dark here when I say that has more to do with impoverishment and dis empowerment than with sending knives per post.

    Only too true. I was just reading something in the Guardian about homelessness in the UK and it sounds grime. We have a serious homeless problems in Canada but nothing like it sounds like the UK has. That serious a problem suggests that they are also seeing gangs, and a lot of petty crime. And, unfortunately a lot of 16-year-old males will think they need knife to protect themselves.

    I just had a thought. Will the law affect axes? Probably not a big worry in most of the UK but it might be rather serious in some parts of Canada.

  2. says

    UK knife law is already OTT. I got patted down for drugs (because, biker, weird hair-style & colour, happened to be near two people who were fighting, any excuse) some years back. Turns out that a folding knife with a three-inch or less blade is fine, but not if the blade locks into the open position. Knife confiscated, down to the nick, official caution.

  3. says


    Turns out that a folding knife with a three-inch or less blade is fine, but not if the blade locks into the open position.

    FFS, what good is a knife which doesn’t lock open?

  4. says

    Caine #3:

    FFS, what good is a knife which doesn’t lock open?

    A decent penknife that doesn’t lock is okay, if you’re using it for fishing line, stripping wires, that kinda thing. You don’t want to be doing anything that requires too much pressure though; one slip and the damn thing could twist around and fold onto your fingers.

    The silly thing is, it’s virtually unenforceable. Most people never get searched for any reason, or use knives in fights, after all.

  5. avalus says

    There are some such laws here in Germany like: you should not be able to oben a folding knife with one hand. I had a few fun conversations with the police because of my medival weaponry (and armour) for reenactment.

    Off Topic: I read “Tod Todeschini” first as “Death Deathschini”. Bilinguality can give you ‘funny’ mistakes.

  6. jazzlet says

    This is not law yet, the Bill hasn’t even been published, when it is it will be examined in both Houses of Parliament as well as in committee with plenty of opportunity for amendments. I agree it’s a ‘We must be seen to be doing something’ kneejerk reaction to the large number of knife deaths especially in London (I think fifty so far this year). They’ve also talked about restrictions on the sale of corrosive liquids because of the increase in attacks using them, which in itself is partly because the existing laws make it illegal to carry most knives (as Daz said) so gang members switched to corrosives for roberries and revenge attacks.

    There is no suggestion of any attempt to deal with the conditions that have created and sustain gangs. There have been huge cuts in services that worked to provide alternatives for at risk youngsters, in many areas such work has completely ceased. And of course the kind of societal change that might lead to there being real prospects of decent jobs for these young people is unthinkable for a Tory.

  7. says

    Mmm, cooking without proper knives, how awful that would be. Partner has some pretty effective ironware permanently scattered about the kitchen bench, always in use. And, how would one cut up a crusty loaf with a 6″ bread knife? Only baguettes would be allowed.

  8. Ice Swimmer says

    I think knives are the weapons that need least restrictions of all. They have a much smaller potential for producing collateral damage than firearms, motor vehicles, explosives or corrosive liquids while being a necessary tool for all households.

  9. chigau (違う) says

    My knife is the Swiss Army Camping.
    It resides in the back pocket of my trous.
    The only times I do not have it on me is when I am travelling by airplane.
    It has a corkscrew, a toothpick, tweezers, a 6 cm blade, a 3.75 cm blade, a 7 cm saw, a 3 mm screwdriver combined with a can-opener, a 6mm screwdriver combined with a bottle-opener and little notch which probably has a purpose, that adze-thingy.
    None of these lock.
    I believe it is legal in Japan.

  10. says

    chigau, nope, Friday the 13th went off without a hitch at Chez Lofty. Warmish, windy, followed by the season’s first decent rain.

  11. says

    chigau @9, my ever present Swiss Army Knife also has the little pair of scissors. Harder to find for sale than the regular Knife but worth it’s weight. My favourite Knife (long lost) had a Philips driver instead of the cork screw.

  12. chigau (違う) says

    My late-lamented-lost-to-security-knife had a ball-point-pen and a red-flashlight.
    So one could write in the “dark”.

  13. rq says

    The law here defines what kind of bladed object can be regarded as a weapon, because the law quibbles on whether you’ve been stabbed by a knife-weapon or a knife-tool. Apparently a screwdriver never counts as a weapon as such, so the law is interpreted differently than if you were, say, cut with a combat knife.
    I find it a little weird. (But then, some of those bladed combat weapons are illegal, so…)

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