The Eternal Game of Knifey-Spoony: British Knife Control

 

Recently, a British police force tweeted out a picture of a set of knives given to them for safe disposal. The astute among you have no doubt already noticed the spoon in that picture. ‘Safely disposing of’ kitchen knives is stupid, the fencing foil is just sad, but the spoon? Thank heavens we have these dangerous instruments off the streets! Okay, maybe this is a charity (from a casual internet glance they’re St. Vincent’s but woke) is just trying to get rid of things which might be illegal and some joker dumped extra bits into the pile. Then a couple of days later the same police outfit (and I caution you that this is, in fact, a police force and not actually a Twitter parody account) tweets out this.

Yeah. You just raided someone’s toolbox. No mistaking here; that Phillips screwdriver is a threat to life and limb! I can imagine why you’d want to ban knives to prevent knife crime, but why would you ban bastard files? Tired of the cheap jokes? At this point I can see three possibilities:

  1. It is in fact a parody and I missed on my BS detector. But nothing false has ever been posted to the internet before, so why worry?
  2. The cops are overzealous and foolish enough to post evidence of same to Twitter; a sober platform where mistakes are never roundly castigated.
  3. or most likely, the law was written foolishly such that somehow snub-nosed pliers count as a knife. Cop’s just doin’ his job, and perhaps publicly pointing out the foolishness of this law as a means of provoking change.

A quick search and I turn up this gov.uk page explaining the law. It’s in human-readable words, which means whatever it says doesn’t actually count. The only thing that counts in court is lawyer-ese words; relying on anything else is walking on thin ice. The site helpfully fails to quote the actual act being referenced, or offer any evidence for its statements other than the appeal to authority of having a gov.uk address.

Adding ‘for barristers’ to my query didn’t help much, but it did give me one slightly more serious response, which included a section of the law. Searching for that section specifically, and bingo! We’ve got the sort of language typically associated with summoning Nyarlathotep. In the secret tongue of lawyers, this is what actually gets banned:

this section applies to any article which has a blade or is sharply pointed except a folding pocketknife.

There are exceptions to that; you’re allowed to be a chef who takes his knife home with him after work, or a Sikh. If your folding knife is longer than three inches, if it locks into place or it’s spring-activated in any way you’re out of luck. The law does offer you the defense of having a good reason. That’s a terribly subjective term. Given the tweeted tools, wanting to do some repairs around the house doesn’t qualify.

What does ‘has a blade or is sharply pointed’ mean? I’m not seeing either on that hand file. Are snub-nosed pliers sufficiently pointy to qualify as ‘sharply pointed’? The law as written clearly applies to scissors. Going by the intent of the law, I guess I could kill someone with any one of those articles if I were sufficiently motivated, so I can see why the bobby would grab ’em.

Were I the homeowner whose tool belt was being pilfered I’d take a dim view of such logic. It’s not just the hassle of trying to get your needle-nosed pliers back from the authorities. After your attempt inevitably fails you’re going to have to get a new pair of pliers off the black market. Selling knives is criminalized.

And that’s where the logic takes you; a national game of Knifey-Spoony where the authorities refuse to distinguish the two. If you zealously ban anything pointy that could be used as a murder weapon you ban every tool which can be used for any useful purpose. You’ll bring Britain back to the stone age, and then confiscate some poor sod’s fist axe because his hittin’ rock has been illegally sharpened. Maybe you don’t ban people back to the literal stone age (although I can’t see any other logical stopping point, now that they’ve determined snub-nosed pliers are a deadly weapon). Maybe you successfully clean all the knives off the streets; you’ve only got tools in the hands of licensed contractors.

At that point you don’t have a society anymore; you have a sheepfold. An armed populace (even one armed with something as harmless as hand files) is an essential check on their government. Without some possibility of extracting a blood price from their leaders, the only protection the people have against their leaders turning tyrannical is the goodwill of the public servant. In a civilized country that might even last for a while, but I wouldn’t guarantee it.

Thank God we fought a revolution to not have to deal with this sort of nonsense. You can have my slot screwdriver when you pry it from my cold dead hands! Just don’t pry it out using your own screwdriver; prying is pretty bad for ’em.

Published in Law
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There are 59 comments.

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  1. EJHill Podcaster

    It’s all fun and games until someone gets ladled.

    • #1
    • May 17, 2019, at 5:33 AM PDT
    • 19 likes
  2. Full Size Tabby Member

    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power: Yeah. You just raided someone’s toolbox. No mistaking here; that Phillips screwdriver is a threat to life and limb! I can imagine why you’d want to ban knives to prevent knife crime, but why would you ban bastard files? Tired of the cheap jokes?

    But the cheap jokes practically write themselves! Think of the embarrassment inflicted on the wire when it is stripped naked of its cladding by the wire stripper on the right, and then twisted around a post by the needle-nosed pliers on the left. 

    I do hope the post by the police is an attempt to highlight the stupidity of the law. But, given some of the other things British police departments have done in the name of political correctness, I have my doubts.

    • #2
    • May 17, 2019, at 5:40 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Kozak Member

    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power: ut why would you ban bastard files?

    Clearly the file is used in the manufacture of pointy things.

    Can’t have that.

    When do they ban banana’s….

    • #3
    • May 17, 2019, at 5:53 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. Seawriter Member

    Whelp, so much for carving as a hobby – or even model-making.

    • #4
    • May 17, 2019, at 5:55 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Doug Watt Member

    Semi-auto assault knives with high capacity magazine.

    • #5
    • May 17, 2019, at 6:03 AM PDT
    • 23 likes
  6. Arahant Member

    What a clown show.

    • #6
    • May 17, 2019, at 6:25 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Seawriter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    What a clown show.

    Be nice to clowns, okay?

    • #7
    • May 17, 2019, at 6:26 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    What a clown show.

    Be nice to clowns, okay?

    When one reads as much as I do about history, it’s truly sad. People used to walk around with swords and other arms all the time in Britain. It was expected of people of a certain class. Now? They have become effete. Might as well be the French.

    • #8
    • May 17, 2019, at 6:28 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  9. Michael Brehm Member

     When the British police force institutes a rock buyback program, you could really rake it in if you can get access to that quarry where all the Dr. Who episodes were filmed.

    • #9
    • May 17, 2019, at 6:47 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. The Great Adventure! Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    What a clown show.

    Be nice to clowns, okay?

    When one reads as much as I do about history, it’s truly sad. People used to walk around with swords and other arms all the time in Britain. It was expected of people of a certain class. Now? They have become effete. Might as well be the French.

    Hey! The French are still allowed knives…

    • #10
    • May 17, 2019, at 6:50 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  11. Dan Campbell Member

    Can they ban the politicians’ pointy heads?

     

    • #11
    • May 17, 2019, at 6:53 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Valiuth Member

    Why a spoon? It’s dull, it will hurt more.

     

    • #12
    • May 17, 2019, at 7:02 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  13. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Hank Rhody, Drunk on Power: …or a Sikh.

    A SIKH?? Don’t they remember their history?

    Those guys are dangerous. They fought both against and with the Brits! There is a famous episode where 21 Sikh in the British army stood against an army 10K.

     

    • #13
    • May 17, 2019, at 7:05 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. Vance Richards Member

    Serious question, how are you supposed to eat a steak? Pick it up with your hands?

    • #14
    • May 17, 2019, at 7:16 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Seawriter Member

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):
    A SIKH?? Don’t they remember their history?

    Maybe they do. I doubt this legislation is intended against real threats. It is to keep the average Englishman or woman in their place, assert government dominance over the law-abiding, and create the illusion that Something Is Being Done.

    • #15
    • May 17, 2019, at 7:18 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. Seawriter Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Serious question, how are you supposed to eat a steak? Pick it up with your hands?

    The folks enforcing this believe steaks are bad for the health of peasantry to which this applies, and that those folks should be eating healthy soy loaf.

    • #16
    • May 17, 2019, at 7:20 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  17. Valiuth Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Serious question, how are you supposed to eat a steak? Pick it up with your hands?

    You just sharpen the edge of your fork. 

    • #17
    • May 17, 2019, at 7:51 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Hartmann von Aue Member

    I think Drew said it first, but, dang. How quickly they turned into Airstrip One. 

    • #18
    • May 17, 2019, at 7:55 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. SkipSul Moderator

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Serious question, how are you supposed to eat a steak? Pick it up with your hands?

    You just sharpen the edge of your fork.

    Now commercially available. I thought of this concept back in the 80s, in Boy Scouts. Even made a few prototypes. I should have taken out a patent. I wanted to call it the “Sporf”.

    • #19
    • May 17, 2019, at 8:05 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  20. Kozak Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Serious question, how are you supposed to eat a steak? Pick it up with your hands?

    No steak for you.

    Bad for the environment and causes more expense to the NHS.

    Tofu. Or insects.

    • #20
    • May 17, 2019, at 8:10 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Al French, sad sack Member

    @hankrhody the second photo disappeared.

    • #21
    • May 17, 2019, at 8:20 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Al French, sad sack Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Serious question, how are you supposed to eat a steak? Pick it up with your hands?

    You just sharpen the edge of your fork.

    Now commercially available. I thought of this concept back in the 80s, in Boy Scouts. Even made a few prototypes. I should have taken out a patent. I wanted to call it the “Sporf”.

    Banned! Made of evil plastic.

    • #22
    • May 17, 2019, at 8:21 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  23. The Great Adventure! Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Serious question, how are you supposed to eat a steak? Pick it up with your hands?

    You just sharpen the edge of your fork.

    And how do you do that if they’ve also banned the files? Oh that’s right – you go out and rub it on the sidewalk!

    At least until they ban concrete because they find a body encased in a block somewhere…

    • #23
    • May 17, 2019, at 8:26 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. Aaron Miller Member

    I wrote a stern letter. They confiscated my pencil.

    • #24
    • May 17, 2019, at 8:48 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  25. Al French, sad sack Member

    One of those items is a letter opener fashioned like a miniature sword. I have a similar one my brother bought me in Spain as a gift fifty years ago.

    • #25
    • May 17, 2019, at 9:11 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Vance Richards Member

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):

    One of those items is a letter opener fashioned like a miniature sword. I have a similar one my brother bought me in Spain as a gift fifty years ago.

    Looks like an assault letter opener. No one needs to open that much mail.

    • #26
    • May 17, 2019, at 9:32 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  27. Old Bathos Member

    There are British precedents. For centuries the Irish were not permitted to own guns, swords, bladed weapons of any kind, or even long pointy sticks that could be used as pikes. (see, for example, the rising of 1798 when the French failed to show up as hoped/expected). The fellows who argued and drafted the Second Amendment knew the policy traditions were they were dealing with.

    • #27
    • May 17, 2019, at 9:47 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  28. Aaron Miller Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):

    One of those items is a letter opener fashioned like a miniature sword. I have a similar one my brother bought me in Spain as a gift fifty years ago.

    Looks like an assault letter opener. No one needs to open that much mail.

    I briefly considered applying for a job in Britain. I thought I might be able to get away with carrying a decorative letter opener there. It’s not surprising that someone had the same idea. 

    I would have been deported within a year for speaking like a Texan. 

    • #28
    • May 17, 2019, at 10:00 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  29. Peckish Cedar Coolidge

    I believe the logic they are using on spoons comes from a historical documentary produced in the early 1990s about medieval England. The Sheriff of Nottingham told his henchmen to cut someone’s heart out with a spoon. When asked “why a spoon, why not an axe”, he replied “Because it’s DULL, you twit. It’ll hurt more.” That shows the Brits have been on top of spoon violence for a long time. When seconds count, a Bobby with a spoon is just minutes away. 

    • #29
    • May 17, 2019, at 10:22 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  30. Hank Rhody, on the blockchain Contributor

    First of all, let me credit @Roberto for scouring the twitters so I don’t have to.

    • #30
    • May 17, 2019, at 10:39 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
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