As reported, the British police have been searching on social networking sites for pictures of people posing with knives. Upon finding such a picture, they make a copy and send it to a gang task force. The gang task for then arrests the individual if the picture was taken in a public place (carrying a knife in public is illegal in the UK). If the picture was taken in private, the police still go pay a visit to the people involved (or their parents) and try to confiscate the knives. My thoughts on this approach are below:
My General Thoughts on this type of Policing
I don’t really have an objection to the police looking at publicly accessible websites for evidence of an alleged crime. That is because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy on a public website, just as there is no such expectation of privacy on a public street. If people are unwise enough to record themselves doing something that is unlawful, and then show further bad judgment by posting the evidence online, they shouldn’t be surprised when they are arrested. Were the police accessing a private website, or otherwise invading the privacy of a citizen without probable cause, then it would be an entirely different story, and I would be up in arms about violations of the right to privacy. (That said, I think that it is entirely unreasonable to criminalize the carrying of self defense tools, or to criminalize the act of defending oneself against criminals, as the UK has done – but that is not the point I am trying to make here.)
Focusing on Inanimate Objects is Ineffective at Reducing Crime
As I’ve said before, the British have an almost obsessive focus on the inanimate tools used by criminals, rather than the intentional actions of those criminals. When a person is shot to death, they blame guns and push for even more bans on gun ownership, despite the fact that such bans don’t reduce crime and are just one more law for criminals to ignore. When a person is stabbed to death, they blame knives and set up internet task forces. Until the British people realize that crime is the result of intentional actions on the part of human beings, rather than the presence of weapons, I don’t think that they are going to have much luck at solving their violent crime problem.
Knives Cannot be Eliminated from Society
Knives are some of the most useful objects in society. They are needed to cook and eat food, and to do some yard work. Knives are essential tools of medicine (everything from scalpels to bone saws) as well as arts and crafts (think x-acto knives). As a SCUBA diver, I carry knives when diving, in case I become entangled in a discarded fishing net and need to cut myself free, while my fiancée uses knives when making cakes at work and home. Knives were some of the first tools invented by humans many thousands of years ago, and they remain essential to our every day lives. Given the need for knives, it is simply impossible to think that they could be banned from society. Even if it were possible to effectively ban knives, criminals could easily manufacture their own knives, since even prison inmates can manage to make knives. No matter how one looks at it, knives aren’t going anywhere.
My thanks to Anders for pointing out this news story.
I wonder if this will reduce cyberspace stabbing.
I have personally been stabbed, shoot and killed in many ways, in cyberspace that is. I just hope that the sense less violence you see in Grand Theft Auto, Tour Of Duty and Hitman (I love those games) might get curved by this law…
That didn't make any sense did it?
What is really scary for you is that your comment made sense to me and I am on meds.
I wonder how the police will react if someone takes a picture of a fancy dinner setting and puts it on Facebook, since those usually have knives as well.
The British banning of knives, guns, and other implements that could be used as weapons would be comical if only it weren't true. I recently saw an ad on the Internet for a bedside table marketed to British homeowners. The bedside table consists of the stand and a round table, which, if a home invader comes in, can be separated into the round table part (which serves as a shield) and the stand part (which serves as a bludgeon). It looked so funny I nearly doubled over laughing at it. However, thinking that some poor homeowner in London may have to trust his life to such an object (as opposed to even being able to use a kitchen knife – because usage of such a knife could land him in jail) made me very sad for British society.
Unfortunately, that's the way I see the USA going toward.
We are running out of slippery slope arguments on this issue, but here it goes. What's next, blunt objects? Lock up your hammers, golf clubs and cricket bats because it would be dangerous in the wrong hands.
Speaking of hands will it be against the law to clench ones fists.
All I want to know is how are the limeys going to slice up the Christmas turkey?
I wonder if anyone in the UK has considered that if this approch is to continue to its conclusion hands will be restricted, then everyone will have to be handcuffed before being allowed outside their house.
I won't name my country, but getting a CCW in my country is harder than beating Bolt on the 100 meters – the law is a may issue like California, only more discretionary.
Knives cannot be carried, in any form (even small scissors with rounded points cannot be carried legally, and I'm not even sure about nail-clippers…no, I'm not kidding), and if they are carrying a folding knives whose blades locks open in such a way that the user needs to operate some kind of system to put the blade away, that's an 18 month prison sentence.
All kinds of monkey wrench, hammers, golf clubs, cricket bats, walking stick… in short *any object* wich *could* be used to hit someone and is carried without a reason (and is the judge to decide if there is a good reason: ususlly there isn't any, except for example a plumber carrying a wrench in his working time)is considered an "illegal weapon", and the sentence is harder that if you were carrying a handgun, because for a handgun you could, tecnically, get a licence (very slim chance…).
CN and CS are considered chimical warfare products, so the sentence for carrying any of those products is the same you would get for carrying a fully automatic AK-47.
Those same people who create the law (senators and memebers of parliament) and those who uphold the law (judges) can buy, own and carry a handgun without any kind of control, licence, tax, and noone can impede them from owning weapons…
Some time ago two groups of people have solved a discussion with knives: one killed.
Three day ago two persones on a bus have solved an argument with the help of a knife. One wounded.
The reason in both cases? A stare.
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