Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A topic that's near and dear to my heart

So, this weekend I got an email from a message board that I haven't heard from in a long time, that deals with pocket knives. I used to be a knife nut, I have several, and I use them daily, for perfectly legal and useful purposes. As a woodworker, I think they're really useful. As a human being, I think they're one of our most fundamental tools, and I think, philosophically speaking, one of the most important.

The email that I got explained that Customs, in their infinite wisdom, is trying to classify any pocket knife that can be opened with one hand (which is 80% of the knife market) as a switchblade knife... making millions of knife carrying people into criminals.


I hate to be one of those guys who puts their politics front and center. I figure everyone has an opinion, and a thinking mind of their own, so it's not for me to try to shape how they think and feel. It feels obnoxious.

But this is a real issue for me. I realize that many people view knives as scary things, and I think it's sad. A pocket knife used to be the hallmark of a good scout, or a competent person who used his hands. Knives are tools, first and foremost, and I generally think that everyone should at least learn how to use one. Learning to use something that demands caution or forethought is something that I think is a really important part of being a modern day human... let alone part of a democracy.

Then again, it seems to be considered a basic human right these days for people to be able to drive a large automobile while texting on their cell phone. So I'm not so sure that I'm on the same page as the rest of society.

I know that some people perceive knives to be dangerous weapons. But I genuinely believe this to be one of those 'eye of the beholder' type things. I think that, in the hands of an angry human, that just about anything is a dangerous weapon... or can be. To my eye, it's the intent that defines a weapon... not it's physical form. I've had a few conversations with people to this effect. Chairs, table legs, shoelaces, extension cords, kitchen implements of many kinds, wrenches, screwdrivers, pointy sticks, broken glass in any form, belts with big buckles, sports equipment of various kinds, belts with small buckles... any of these can be used to cause injury, or death. I'm sure that, lacking anything else, a person could be strangled with a few sheets of twisted up newspaper, like the daily metro. Not what they had in mind when the phrase "power of the press," was coined, I'm sure. We don't perceive these things to be threatening. Nor should we... it's the guy with the bloodshot eyes who's trying to kill someone that's threatening. Not the granny with the knitting needles.

This isn't the "guns don't kill people, people kill people," argument. Or, it's not meant to be. But the truth is that knives are much more easy to use in a positive, constructive, helpful way, than a gun is. I'm not a gun nut. I do believe in the second amendment, but I really believe that this is a whole other class of offense. I don't think that outlawing such a broad range of pocket knives is at all rational or useful... but they're trying to do it anyway.

I don't expect that I'll change people's minds with my ranting and raving here. I can hope, but I'm sure there are people who wouldn't mind if pocket knives were made illegal. That said, if there are any of you who find this concept distasteful, I beg, I implore you... look at the link posted above. Write a couple of emails. It's not a lot of time out of your day, and it's really worth doing.

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