Weapon Laws in the UK

English: Victorinox SwissChamp army knife Nede...

English: Victorinox SwissChamp army knife Nederlands: Victorinox SwissChamp zakmes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The law of weapons in the UK can often be confusing and you’ll hear lots of stuff about what you can and can’t carry when you are out and about. I’ve heard people assure me that a knife with a certain length of blade is legal to carry and been quoted sizes ranging from six inches to 1.5 inches. Other legal eagles are confident that possession of Kubutan a small stick like weapons used most of the time as a keyring but with the added bonus of being a useful trapping and striking weapon are perfectly legal can be carried without fear of legal repercussions.

A digression on Kubotans

The basic position is this, you can carry a small knife or a Kubotan or whatever but the moment you use it to defend yourself it becomes a weapon. If you are stopped with a knife or Kubotan and you tell the police its for self-defence, its an offensive weapon. Interestly enough the police may well now regard even possession of a Kubotan an offensive weapon.

Have a look at this article in on the BBC news website http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/8606969.stm

The Daily Mail carried a story with a picture of the style of Kubotan they thought Day was carrying. In my view I doubt it was the fairly agressive model of Kubotan shown in the article. If it was, then Day’s defence that he didn’t realise it was a weapon must have rung pretty hollow. More likely something like this. Note the less agressive style, you could see a big keyring like appealing to those of us who spend time desperately hunting for wherever they left their keys the last time.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Ku2.JPG

Day’s case was not helped by some ill-informed martial arts experts who earlier in the two day trial had stated that they could kill someone using a Kubotan or similar stick like object. An expert probably could, Day who had no history of weapons training or martial arts probably would not.

A wiser head might have pointed out that on that basis the next logical step to keep the public safe would be to ban pen, dowling rods, thick garden canes, marker pens, in fact anything three to six inches long roughly cylindrical and fairly rigid.

It’s worth remembering that the police are not stupid, if you are a young person (18-25) and stopped by the police with several feet of chain in your pocket saying that you use it to lock your bike is unlikely to be convincing especially if said bike is not around.

I personally do not advocate the use of a knife as a self-defence weapon in any but the most dire of circumstances, unless you know the human body sufficiently well to know where and how deep to cut you run the risk of killing your attacker and a court is unlikely to view defending yourself with a blade as an acquital unless there really was a justified and clear threat to your life.

A note on knives

As a kid I had knives, it was usually some kind of Victorinox copy, cheap and generally as sharp as a fish knife, but it sharpened branches for turning into bows and arrows, it was used to dig trenches for plastic soldiers and whatever version of Action Man was popular at the time. I never once even considered using a knife in a fight, my generation regarded someone with a knife as a coward since they declined to fight the proper way with their fists (or if you were ten wrestling and rolling around in the grass being encouraged by the friends)

Later I started to build a collection, tucked away in a drawer in some dark corner of my house it’s still there, probably not all of the items are now legal but since I have no intention of them ever leaving the house except in a packing case or for disposal that doesn’t worry me in the slightest! I know there is an argument that were my home ever to be burgled those knives could end up on the streets and kill someone, but in my experience and on those rare occasions when someone has threatened me with a knife it has not been a Buck 184 “Buckmaster” the knife made popular by the first Rambo movie, nor a Bali-song or Chinese butterfly knife or twin dragon blades or any of the other knives I have owned in the past. It’s usually a plastic handled knife type knife obtained for a few pennies a cheap lock knife or on one occasion a screwdriver. Knife amnesties often turn up something called a ‘martial arts knife’  Something like this

Martial arts knife?
Martial arts knife?

This sort of knife is simply a cheaply produced fantasy knife, often of poor quality and based on a design from a film (I think I saw something like it in one of the Rambo movies)  The connection with martial arts is usually tenuous in the extreme but it and others like it are touted to show what a success the amnesty has been. I often find myself wondering how many knife come from people likely to use them on other people and how many are simply sitting in  drawer for many years before fueling the police preoccupation with knives which often seem to have little connection with actual knife crime. The average hoodie does not invest £100 or more in a custom blade when he can walk into any kitchen ware shop and buy one for a pound!

Knives Sheathed
Image by mrbill via Flickr

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