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(from UK, and happy to accept your downvotes):

I'm shocked that people litteraly sell knives designed to hurt people on the internet, and that people on HN come to the defence of these arms dealers. I assumed this was about kitchen knives when I clicked on the link.

The US constitution was written with a right to bear arms so people could overthrow the government, not protect themselves from criminals. Since then, that government has entrenched power to the point where it would be nearly impossible for even another state to take it down, let alone a group of armed civilians - thus rendering the constitutional clauses irrelevant to their original purpose. (note to secret services: no, I don't want to overthrow governments or start wars, I'm talking hypothetically.)

In the rest of the developed world where weapons are generally banned, as they are in the UK, criminals simply don't use weapons on civilians (apart from high value targets, perhaps) because the penalties for doing so are so harsh. Criminals literally throw their guns away in a chase, rather than use them on the police/get caught with them. Police are generally unarmed, apart from specially trained units (dawn raids, at airports, etc).

This is the sole reason I would never ever consider living in the USA - the risk from a) criminals, b) civilian "heros" and c) the police themselves, all of whom are armed to the teeth, legally. Terrifying.




The only difference between my assisted opening knife and my paring knife is that the former is safe to put into my pocket. Same size, same blade shape, one lives in my kitchen cabinet and the other lives in my toolbag. I don't use the later for food because I don't want it to get sticky. How exactly does that make the later "designed to hurt people"?


    the former is safe to put into my pocket
The spring is the difference. A switchblade (and "assisted opening" is just an obvious circumvention of those being banned) can be easily carried concealed and is a very deadly weapon in fights. That's why they are outlawed - legislation has decided that their potential utility (takes a second less to open?) doesn't outweigh their general danger to the public.

Note that all kinds of easy to carry knifes are not illegal, like hunting knifes or swiss army knifes.


The spring neither makes it deadlier (such a blade is not particularly deadly) nor does it make it dramatically easier to conceal carry (either is small enough to fit easily in my pockets). Had I not lost the plastic sheath (considering they are kept in cabinets anyway, what is the point?) to my paring knife, either would safely fit in my pocket and be deployable fast enough for any attempted homicide. The difference between the two as a murder weapon is stupidly negligible, the advantage of the spring and folding action are only cumulative over long term normal use. Sheath get lost, and regular pocket knives become tiresome; both issues that I assume are not a problem on the rare occasion you find yourself in a knife fight in a Broadway play.

The idea of spring loaded folding knives being super enhanced murder tools is a fantasy in the minds of people who have watched too many movies from the 50s. I mean seriously, what do you picture? People squaring up for knife fights in dark alleys where every millisecond counts? Give me a break.


I've been interested in crime stats and arguments for some time; thus, I'm interested to know where you are getting your data to make such assumptions that UK criminals don't use weapons on civilians when sources dictate that the UK is among the most violent in Europe and perhaps 2x more violent than in the USA?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violent_crime#United_Kingdom

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/5712573...

Dozens more sources similar to what you can find in the above links if you search via your favorite search engine.

Violence is classified somewhat differently in the UK; however, removing the differences in classification still shows the UK leading in violent crimes vs the US or a fair number of other countries.


The UK is not more violent than America. Most years we have less than 1000 murders total across every single type of murder, the US has 10x that from firearms alone with only a 6x larger population. You hit on the reason why our violent crime seems to be so high, almost every crime that could be violent is counted as violent (for example if someone broke into my apartment while I was out) and in most other countries that isn't the case. What crimes does the UK have (that are violent) that are higher in number than America? Every single crime type that I've been able to find comparative statistics for shows the US to be higher. The UK certainly isn't a crime free utopia where nobody locks their doors but it is not the violent place you paint it as, especially when compared to the US.

Also for some hilarious reading, why not read this article from THE SAME publication that you linked to that says the UK has a massive knife crime problem: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1546085/The-vagaries-...

    The different between the two estimates - derived from the questioning of 
    around 600 under-25s  about whether they had been "knifed or stabbed", 
    and then extrapolated to the wider population, with all the statistical 
    vagaries that entails - reflects the lack of precise information about the 
    scale of knife crime in England and Wales.


Higher in actual number is almost always going to be relative to the population, isn't it? Per capita is more accurate while it still is lacking for comparison purposes.

I agree that murder, as one type of violent crime, is more prominent here in the US than in the UK on a per capita basis.

Crime stats are most definitely open to a lot of interpretation between countries, actual reported statistics vs unreported, varying definitions, and more.


The Telegraph is a conservative rag for one thing, like Fox news.

Even in that article it provides the number 927 murders in 2007. Compared to America's 16,929 murders in 2007. America's population is much larger than the UK though, 4.91 times. So you multiply the UK's murder rate by nearly 5 and get a paltry 4,557 compared to America's 16,929.

http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/offenses/violent_crime/murd...

http://www.usa-vs-uk.com/population.html


I agree.

Murder is unequivocally a violent crime; however, I believe "violent crimes" can cover assault of just about any type, sexual crimes and more.


> This is the sole reason I would never ever consider living in the USA

Just to provide a counter-anecdote, the fact that I couldn't legally own weapons capable of leveling the playing field between me and an armed criminal makes me disinclined to ever consider living in the UK. The best I can do for protection is a baseball bat? Terrifying.


To be honest, as an American, either position strikes me as irrational. The chances of being the victim of random violent in either country is not worth worrying about.

My habit of jaywalking probably puts me in far more danger than either not having a weapon in the UK or simply living in the US where others do, but I rarely give jaywalking a second thought.


> either position strikes me as irrational.

Right. Because they are both irrational. Fear isn't a rational thing. I think both tehwalrus's comment and mine are two very different responses to the same fear.

tehwalrus fears being surrounded by people who are "armed to the teeth, legally." I fear being surrounded by people who are armed to the teeth, illegally. tehwalrus would rather those people not be armed at all. I would rather have the ability to at least attempt to defend myself with comparable force.

Where we differ is in our assumptions. I assume that no law will ever make firearms magically inaccessible to criminals.

> The chances of being the victim of random violent in either country is not worth worrying about.

Yep. I realize, in the rational parts of my mind, that if I sold my guns tomorrow and never touched one again, I have a pretty high probability of living to a ripe old age without ever being a victim of violence. I don't want to put words in tehwalrus' mouth, but I think he probably realizes too that if he were to live in the States, the chance of one of those gun-carriers around him on a day to day basis going on a shooting spree is quite small.

But my point is that fear is immune to statistics. In my mind, owning guns for self-defense (and, on a side note, knowing when and how to use them legally) is the exact same thing as buying life insurance. Statistically, will I ever need life insurance? No. Otherwise insurance companies wouldn't make a profit. But there's always the chance. So in the same way that I want my family to be provided for in the event that I die unexpectedly, I want the ability to attempt to defend myself and the people I care about.

Would I prefer to live in a perfect world where nobody's afraid of violence? Absolutely. But unfortunately we don't live in such a place.


>I assume that no law will ever make firearms magically inaccessible to criminals.

Sure, it is not impossible to own a gun in the UK, but the laws do make it a lot more difficult. Because there's no legal supply, they're harder to get hold of, and even if a criminal does, they're taking a significant risk every time they carry it around. It just isn't worthwhile for random petty criminals to carry a gun in the same way as in the US. The result is that criminals having guns simply isn't something that people in the UK worry about, to the extent that we are even comfortable with an unarmed police force.

Of course the big difference between the US and the UK is the number of guns available. Making guns as inaccessible in the US as they are in the UK would be a phenomenal undertaking, and likely would result temporarily in the "only outlaws have guns" scenario from pro-gun rhetoric. It would be nice if there was a gradual path you guys could take, but realistically you're probably just stuck with them.


I assume that no law will ever make firearms magically inaccessible to criminals.

I live in one of the most violent bits of London. Someone was murdered with a modified athletic starting pistol two years ago within 500 yards of my flat (a bystander, since such weapons are hugely inaccurate).

I don't assume that such weapons won't be in the hands of criminals - I assume that they will be more difficult to obtain, since for example all handguns are illegal, and will have absolutely no incentive to use one on me even if they have one, since they know I'm not armed.


It's not like a criminal is going to give you a call letting you know that they're getting in so you get prepared. Fun exercise: did guns save more lives or took more away?

EDIT: this is for gp.


> It's not like a criminal is going to give you a call letting you know that they're getting in so you get prepared.

It's late and I'm tired, so I must be missing the point you're making here. How does knowing whether a criminal is coming affect the argument for or against firearms for defense? It takes me about 2 seconds to ready a firearm, and I have this excellent living burglar alarm called a "black labrador retriever" who will give me at least that much warning. :)

> Fun exercise: did guns save more lives or took more away?

Took more away, definitely. What's your point? We can't magically un-invent firearms, unfortunately.


I don't want to argue freedom of owning a gun, and you may very wel be trained to deal in such situations, but a gun most likely wont help you if you get in trouble. You can take away guns, but it would take many years, perhaps decades. Lots of other countries have done it.


I think "levelling the playing field" is a very dangerous assumption. You're not levelling the playing field - the person you are thinking about fighting is a criminal. He will have much less restraint in using force than you will, so he'll be at a massive advantage. On top of that, given that robbing people might be his full time occupation, he'll try to be armed better than you are, so you don't put up resistance (he has no interest in being killed or killing you, after all).

So essentially you're triggering an arms race, the results of which can be seen in the US.

The European (or possible "every other developed country") approach is to not even try to fight criminals (again, you have little chance anyway, they are professionals after all) but rely on the police, where the police has such overwhelming force that no reasonable person would try to fight them.

Given crime statistics, the European approach appears to result in a lot less crime and violence.


Welcome to the US, where the rights of the individual override the rights and safety of the whole.

Here in the US, tolerance to do and say "whatever the hell I want" is demanded but rarely returned.


> criminals simply don't use weapons on civilians (apart from high value targets, perhaps) because the penalties for doing so are so harsh

Do you think the penalties in the US are less harsh? Kill a cop here and you get the death penalty (in many states).

> This is the sole reason I would never ever consider living in the USA - the risk from a) criminals, b) civilian "heros" and c) the police themselves, all of whom are armed to the teeth, legally. Terrifying.

I think you have an exaggerated view of the dangers of living in the US.


>criminals simply don't use weapons on civilians (apart from high value targets, perhaps) because the penalties for doing so are so harsh. Criminals literally throw their guns away in a chase

If they don't use weapons, how do they have guns to throw away?

UK Criminals do use weapons, including knives, to hurt people, which is why you guys have started running anti-knife campaigns, as detailed here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8568390.stm


I was pretty surprised by the video the company willingly distributes advertising their wares. The comparison beween the illegal knife and the "legal" one was such that it left me feeling that the "legal" one was a more effective weapon.

Um. What.


To provide a rather different perspective, I was born and raised in Alaska where pretty much everybody has several guns. Granted, many of those guns are designed more for killing bears and moose than people, but they'll do the job, and most people have a combat-oriented pistol or two. I got a rifle for my fifth birthday.

I'm shocked that people litteraly sell knives designed to hurt people on the internet, and that people on HN come to the defence of these arms dealers.

Most of the knives in question are general-purpose utility knives. They are not designed to hurt people, and that is not the reason most people own them. I carry a Kershaw Leek myself; it has a 3 inch blade, assisted opening, a frame lock and a pocket clip. I routinely use it to open packages, trim rough edges off various objects, cut rope, strip wire, scrape contaminants off surfaces and remove those nasty little sticky screw covers from laptop computers. I have studied and practice the use of a knife as a weapon, but that is not a significant reason I carry a knife, and I would carry a different knife (or more likely, a pistol) if it was.

I've been to the UK. I did not bring my knife because I knew it would be illegal to carry there. Turns out, it's probably illegal to own there, and the multitool I usually keep in my backpack might be illegal to carry in public because it has a locking blade. I never really noticed how much I use my knife until I started going to Europe regularly and couldn't bring it along. I'm constantly reaching for it and finding it missing. I've been carrying a knife of some sort since I was 12.

Since then, that government has entrenched power to the point where it would be nearly impossible for even another state to take it down, let alone a group of armed civilians - thus rendering the constitutional clauses irrelevant to their original purpose.

Aside from the fact that some Americans aren't so happy about that, I think you're mistaken. A large minority of the civilian population would have a much easier time deposing the government and instituting a new one than a foreign state (or group of US states attempting to secede) would. A foreign state attempting to overthrow the US government would have to deal with a fully committed US military and a large portion of the civilian population, which, as you noted is well armed. A large minority of the population rising up against the government would likely gain the support of some of the military and could blend in with the rest of the population when not fighting.

In the rest of the developed world where weapons are generally banned, as they are in the UK, criminals simply don't use weapons on civilians because the penalties for doing so are so harsh

I don't think that's the reason. Penalties for being a felon in possession of a firearm in most US states are severe. Having a weapon while committing a crime, even if it was otherwise legal to have the weapon and the weapon was not used in the crime usually comes with a significant mandatory minimum prison sentence. Firing a gun during another crime means decades in prison.

Criminal-on-civilian violence actually is pretty rare though; the vast majority of violent felonies in the US are criminal-on-criminal. The danger to civilians from Johnny the drug dealer shooting Jimmy the drug dealer is small.


> A large minority of the civilian population would have a much easier time deposing the government and instituting a new one than a foreign state (or group of US states attempting to secede) would. [...] A large minority of the population rising up against the government would likely gain the support of some of the military and could blend in with the rest of the population when not fighting.

I think this is pretty rosy-colored view of what would happen. A "large minority" would have to be several hundred thousand people, perhaps a few million. Anything less is just a radical cult that will promptly be put down...and everyone will say "thank goodness" as they watch on the evening news. If something big enough happens that a few million people take up arms, you have a full blown civil war and things are totally different.

Stockpiling guns and weapons is the opiate of libertarians - "it's fine, I have the weaponry I need to overthrow the government if things get bad enough". In reality, you have a better chance fighting zombies than successfully overthrowing the government through violent means.

To be clear, I have nothing against guns. I'll probably purchase one once I've moved into a more rural area. But I'm under no illusion that the weapon will ever be useful in deposing any government.


A "large minority" would have to be several hundred thousand people, perhaps a few million.

You'll get no dispute from me on that point. I don't even think that it matters much whether a group of the appropriate size starts out armed; the benefit to such a group from having an armed population has more to do with knowing how to use weapons that having stockpiles of them.


Thanks for the long reply; you make a lot of good points, thank you. A quick comment on (one of) them:

I routinely use it to open packages, trim rough edges off various objects, cut rope, strip wire, scrape contaminants off surfaces and remove those nasty little sticky screw covers from laptop computers.

The few of these tasks that actually require a knife, I use my kitchen knife. In fairness, I rarely need to do any of this stuff outside my flat what with living in a city and having a desk-occupation (not job, exactly, grad student.)

packages: my keys, trim edges: I have files (big and small), cut rope: not had to do this in a long time, clean surfaces: dude, scouring pad! screws (even sticky ones): a head-swapable screwdriver with a good handle (I have one with all the torx ones etc).

I think I got a pen knife (non-locking, with screwdrivers etc) as a present for my 10th birthday. I haven't owned one for a long while.

I have loads of tools, I carry them around all the time (bike bag) - In fact, I had to leave my bike tools with security when visiting someone in Parliament once. Among them, however, was nothing resembling a knife.


You're right that there's a better tool for most of these applications. The knife is useful because it's usable for a multitude of purposes and it's easy to carry. I'll have the knife when I don't have a file, screwdriver or scouring pad.

screws (even sticky ones)

I actually meant the plastic covers with sticky backing found on some laptops so that users are not subjected to the horrible sight of a screw head.




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