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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

First A Knife Amnesty, Next A Cricket Bat Amnesty?

Update: see end of post for an example of the problem with controlling the size of kitchen knives and letting violent offenders go back on the street.

A while back a commenter took issue with my objection to using foreign law as a basis for Supreme Court decisions, and suggested I was a Luddite. I'm not, but we are very different from European society and our laws should reflect that.

For example, take these two articles together. The first is an AP article about the move toward allowing "deadly force" in self-defense in the various states of the US:
A campaign by gun rights advocates to make it easier to use deadly force in self-defense is rapidly winning support across the country, as state after state makes it legal for people who feel their lives are in danger to shoot down an attacker -- whether in a car-jacking or just on the street.
...
At its core, they broaden self-defense by removing the requirement in most states that a person who is attacked has a "duty to retreat" before turning to deadly force. Many of the laws specify that people can use deadly force if they believe they are in danger in any place they have a legal right to be -- a parking lot, a street, a bar, a church. They also give immunity from criminal charges and civil liability.
It sounds good to me. The article is written with a great slant against such laws, but the truth is that they don't allow anyone to just walk up to someone and blast them, and the reason that these laws are getting support is that people do feel threatened and think they ought to have the right to fight back. As it stands now, if you kick the crap out of a 16 year-old who is trying to mug you and injure his back, the teenaged sociopath can take you to civil court, which will cost you a bundle even if he loses. That needs to end NOW.

The second is a Daily Record article about the UK knife amnesty:
A NATIONWIDE knife amnesty to end the carnage on our streets was launched yesterday.
...
Launching the amnesty for England and Wales, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said: "Every weapon handed in will be a weapon that cannot be used in crime."
Last year in the UK the suggestion was made that kitchen knives sold in stores should be limited in size, to prevent them from being used in crimes. But what about cricket bats? Screwdrivers? Hatpins and chopsticks? Americans might be wondering why there are so many stabbings (quote from the article "At a time when knife crime is reaching almost epidemic proportions, an amnesty to get these lethal weapons off the streets is clearly a step in the right direction."):
Boyd said yesterday the Crown Office were also carrying out a major review of their policy on knife crime.

He added: "They will give careful consideration to prosecuting persistent and violent offenders, in a court empowered to send them to prison for the maximum period allowed by law."
If you read on, it appears that most such offenses are getting light punishment now. The suggestion is to increase the maximum time for use of a knife in a crime to four years - but I wonder how many times one would have to do it and how violent one would have to be to get the four year term? As you read on, you find out that the current laws are not being enforced in most such incidents.

(Update: Go here for the meat and pototoes, which was provided by SC&A out of the kindness of his heart - er - out of the kindness of their three dead hearts. There are other, even worse examples in the City Journal article by Dalrymple, but here's a quote:
An engineer—Philip Carroll, the father of four—was tinkering with his car outside his home. Four drunken youths sat on a wall on his property, and he asked them to leave. They argued with him, and one of them threw a stone at his car. He chased this youth and caught him, but between 20 and 40 more youths loitering drunkenly nearby rallied round, and one 15-year-old hit the engineer to the ground, where he too banged his head and received severe brain damage. Unconscious for 18 days, he needed three operations to survive; and now he too has an impaired memory and might never work again.
...
Before passing sentence, the judge said: “I have to try to ensure that the courts will treat incidents like this with great severity, to send out a message to other young people that violence is not acceptable.”

Another prelude, you might think, to a stiff sentence—but again you would be wrong. The young man got 12 months, of which he will serve six.
end update - but you can see why the idea of sentencing repeat offenders to a couple years in prison seems radical. A society that will not defend itself against the hawks finds that they proliferate with stunning speed. When police refuse to even come and admonish teenagers setting fires, but abuse those who report the incidents, it should be no surprise that many fires are set and that the mass of law-abiding citizens become bystanders instead of partners with the authorities.)

I think it's time to get the cricket bats off the streets of the UK too. And the tennis rackets, because those are very effective weapons. You can easily kill or maim someone with a good tennis racket. And if you live in one of the places where criminals rule the streets and the laws don't allow carrying of self-defense weaponry, I strongly suggest that you take to carrying a tennis racket and work on your stroke.

Especially if you are a woman.


Comments:
MOM, you MUST read this:
http://www.city-journal.org/html/16_2_oh_to_be.html
 
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