In the UK, They Banned Knives When Knife Crime Rose

As an American, it's easy to be cynical about knife crime in the United Kingdom. I'm here right now, and already I've seen multiple TV news segments about all the stabbings and threats of stabbings with knives and machetes. When I saw a BBC report with the chyron "Knives: can we end the violence?" my gut Yank instinct was to think, "Oh, England. You're adorable that you're only worried about one-on-one knife attacks. Try living every fucking day of your life damned to be in a country where mass shootings happen with a frequency approaching hourly." 

Last night, I saw the play Dismissed at the Soho Theatre, which I disliked a great deal for being didactic and over-directed and more. But it sure seemed to be relevant to the nodding audience. It's about a teacher reporting a student who brought a knife to school, and her agony and guilt over the boy's coming expulsion. Now, in the US, schools do freak out over any weapon brought to school property, even in a student's car. Hell, they freak out over Advil. But, again, I thought, "Damn, must be nice to live in a place where that knife is the worst of your worries on school grounds." 

I mean, the idea of getting knifed is fucking frightening, so I'm not trying to diminish or infantilize the amount of knife crime in the UK, which has risen since the fucking Tories have gone full austerity on things like government services, including the NHS. This is mostly a result of the utterly disastrous, laughably and obviously dumb self-inflicted wound of Brexit, which was supposed to bring a bounty of funding to the UK, especially the National Health Service. But it's a fucking failure, a pile of lies, and no one with any real power is suggesting that the nation unfuck itself, including the feckless Labour Party.

But, yes, it's true that violence with crime has risen under Conservative leadership, and, yes, the right-wingers are using it as an excuse to push for harsher punishment for knife crimes perpetrated by anyone over 16 and tactics like "Stop and Search," which is essentially "Stop and Frisk," except with a more polite British-sounding name. And, yes, that shit hasn't really done anything because the problem won't be solved until Brexit-driven inflation and Tory-driven austerity is brought under control. 

So far, pretty much like the United States except with far, far less murder (262 "sharp object" killings last year). However, one thing is very different.

See, in 2019, as a result of the rise in knife crime, the UK government, which, again, is led by the Conservative Party as it has been since 2015 (or 2010, depending on how you count a coalition), tightened a ban on "offensive weapons," as in "can be used in a criminal offense," not "they stink." Prior to the new law, you couldn't carry the banned knives in public. Now, you can't even own them. If you do, you can face up to six months in jail. The laws fully went into effect in 2021. And you know what? The level of knife crime declined. It's still higher than it was, but it's lower than it became.

Think about that. There was a rise in violent crime and they banned the weapons being used in the crime. No movement to halt the ban gained any traction because while, sure, a person with a knife is responsible for the crime, it sure is harder to hurt someone if the knife isn't available. 

One type of knife that has gotten really popular, especially with young people, is the "zombie knife," which is a supposedly cool-looking blade that resembles hunting knives in zombie movies and TV shows. And there was a loophole in the law that allowed for certain kinds of those knives to be sold online, along with machetes that aren't used for gardening. Right now, the UK Home Office is looking into closing that loophole because that's what the fuck you do. 

This shit isn't hard. In the United States, we make it hard because we pretend that the Constitution gives us the right to individually own the means to destroy ourselves. Here, that kind of thinking is seen as madness and completely antithetical to the safety of the public. Or, you know, common fucking sense.