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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Knife purchases - the retail dilemma

Buying a knife is a dilemma, don't you think? Are we headed down a criminal - or at least dangerous - slope purchasing them even for legitimate reasons?

For a friend's birthday, I thought I'd buy a Swiss Army credit card-sized toolkit that incorporated a small blade. He does a great deal of DIY work and I know this toolkit will be useful to him - he will never use it for stabbing purposes. If anyone got hold of it for ulterior motives, the blade is very small (perhaps bordering on non-lethal).

When I bought it, the credit card device was on sale in a locked, secure glass cabinet. This seems like a good idea - perhaps slowing, deterring or stopping those with evil intent from making a deadly purchase. This was the shop - David Messam in East Street, Chichester - that more than three years ago sold a hunting knife to the killer who slayed Jacky Marshall at McDonalds.

A mostly responsible knife purchase perhaps - if you can call it that. To be honest, I found the whole experience very uncomfortable, bringing back memories of the terrible events that unfolded in the Chichester fast food restaurant after Shane Freer bought the hunting knife from Messam's.

I'm still sensitised by knives (not surprisingly) and I am appalled that so many knives can be offered in such an overtly marketing-led, retail way in a shop. Bold cabinets filled with gleaming blades... silent, dark, solid handles that in the wrong hands... sheesh - it just seems plain wrong.

As I was selecting the Swiss Army tool, I did start thinking how easy it would probably be to implement a licensing system for knife purchases. Buy a blade, your name is recorded as 'knife owner' in whatever town you come from. Is that workable?

This knife-buying exercise highlights the issues around blade availability. The hardware shop I bought the little toolkit from also sells pointed screwdrivers - potential weapons. Very easy to just buy one of those legitimately - they are not stored away in cabinets. Or how about a hammer? Weapons everywhere.

Looking around the city of Chichester, other places marketing knives seem limited. Couldn't any knives and other 'sharp' weapons be sold from a single outlet, and then be carefully monitored? It may not be immediately convenient but I suggest this has value to convey the importance of a 'safe society'. Sounds a little unworkable or unlikely? Perhaps at this stage - I just surface the issue.


  1. Hello,

    In my opinion the repression is useless. This was well demostrated by the fact that in UK is not legal to own a hand gun not for personal defence not for sport but this had not impact on the crime at all.
    Do the government really think that if someone wants to commit a crime will ask for a LICENSE?
    In Italy is legally posible to own a gun (with a permit obviously) and knifes and the percentage of crimes committed by LICENSED people is quite 0 (is stupid to rob a bank with a registered, licensed, traceable gun).
    when all the weapons are outlawed, only outlaws will have weapons'

  2. I really do hope that post was a satire..

    This knife hysteria really isn't helping. Helping towards a totalitarian police state perhaps, but not helping the presevation of freedoms and non-intrusive government.

    Ask yourself in five years time if you should have stuck with the principles grounded in this quote:

    "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."


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