Knife Control isn’t a solution

You can’t wish violence and social problems away – you need to tackle the fundamental reason why they exist. The suggestion to add Machetes to the banned-for-sale list in Norway is a mere symbolic token. Jan Bøhlers opinion piece earlier this week is just against violence on the surface level.

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“We need a ban on Machetes”, is the topic of Jan Bøhler’s opinion article. What he hopes to achieve by banning machetes is to stem violence between youths. This is wishful thinking and if you look at the proposition soberly, it’s quite unrealistic to expect this result. Best case scenario; you have created a period where the social problem is on pause and a brief search of a new tool occurs. The fundamentals are still intact and conflict will continue.

It’s already illegal to stab or threaten others, it’s also illegal to carry a bladed weapon. Adding yet another safety layer isn’t going to give a different result than the two first ones.

In the event of a banning, machetes will just get switched out with meat cleavers, bowie knives, tomahawks or other sharp objects – All which you can buy at your convenience at the business street of Oslo or order online.

Shortly after a ban, you will return back to square one: Kids hurting each other. You have just made it inconvenient to find and use machetes.

It looks really progressive on a surface level to propose a ban and the publicity gives you lots of social media points, but it’s mere theater.

If you are underlining your argument, like Jan Bøhler did, by pointing to the Karambit-knife and say “Look at this tiny knife, that one is banned, therefore the bigger machete should be banned”, you don’t understand why that kind of knife is illegal. Hint: It’s not because of its size.

When more and more of the young population arm themselves with knives as a protective reaction, it is more constructive to give private citizens access to more non-lethal options. Electroshock weapons or pepper spray has great track records – In the case of pepper spray, its even part of the standard police kit here in Norway.

This is an option that should be looked at more closely. If the goal is more safety like Jan Bøhler says he wants, a legalization of pepper spray –  for example – is ideal.

There are around 15.200 boys ages 13-17 in Oslo, 1200 of these was involved in criminality (numbers from 2016) – That is a significant part of the youth population and to break the trend you need something more substantial in the long term.

Let us start with real safety as the first wave of security, rather than false ones.

 


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