April 15, 2018 —London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, sent out a Tweet recently that is significant for many reasons. “No excuses: there is never a reason to carry a knife,” the Mayor of one of the greatest cities in the English-speaking world sent out for the world to see. But that wasn’t all. There was more than a declaration that no justification for carrying a knife exists. “Anyone who does will be caught,” he warned. “And they will feel the full force of the law.”
This is amazing. The mayor of London, capital of one of the greatest nations in the history of humankind, is warning his city’s residents that no one ever has an excuse to carry a knife and that his city’s law enforcement agencies will use their “full force” against those who defy this decree.
London’s police force, of course, is fully equipped with the latest and greatest tactical gear available, probably rivaling that of most militaries on the planet. The city’s legal system is one of the oldest and most-respected in the world. And the mayor of London is threatening that they will be used against anyone who carries a knife.
Just when you thought that this farce could not be taken any further, you need to realize that this is the twenty-first century. This is the age of taking things farther than they can possibly be taken. So when the Regents Park Police tweeted a photo updating the success of Operation Sceptre, a metropolitan police program aimed at “reducing knife crime and the number families affected by knife crime across the whole of London,” we shouldn’t have been surprised.
“These items were found during a #weaponSweep near #MackworthHouse #AugustasSt during #OpSceptre. Safely disposed and taken off the streets,” the tweet read. The items pictured in the tweet are: two screwdrivers, two pairs of pliers, a metal file, and a pair of scissors.”
Now, I admit that I wasn’t sure if the tweet was legit when I first saw it. When it became apparent that it was a genuine tweet, I wasn’t sure if the Regents Park Police existed or if the Twitter account actually belonged to them. But, as far as I can tell at this point, the whole thing seems to be for real. As hard as that might be for us to believe.
Screwdrivers, pliers, files, and scissors are now weapons to be swept off the streets of London by the police. It’s unclear to me how these so-called weapons were found, but if police have the authority to stop citizens, search them for weapons, and confiscate a screwdriver, something is horribly, horribly wrong.
In America, we see things like this happen and shake our heads, wondering how a nation that was once so great can possibly have fallen so far. When we look at the supposed freedom of speech in Britain and compare it to the freedom of speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, though, we see that the freedom in Britain isn’t quite so free, after all. We take for granted things that most other people have never considered normal.
When it comes to weapons, no one in America spends much time dwelling on the implications of knives and other bladed weapons. We certainly never spend even one second wondering if a screwdriver or a file is a weapon. But that’s because we have the right to arm ourselves with effective weapons. The knife isn’t a dangerous weapon until weapons that are more dangerous than knives are strictly controlled. And now that knives are in the crosshairs of the London law, screwdrivers and pliers are being confiscated, too.
For those who might claim that worrying about knives and screwdrivers is far preferable to worrying about guns, they should consider the fact that London’s murder rate overtook that of New York City for the past two months. Regardless of how you parse the numbers and how you present the statistics, London certainly isn’t a safe murder-free utopia despite draconian national gun control. The fact that London’s mayor want to get out a “tough on knife crime” message demonstrates that things are not great and that taking away guns from law-abiding citizens hasn’t solved much of anything.
As Americans, we should feel a bit of gratitude for Mayor Khan’s tweet and for the fact that the Regents Park Police were willing to share their haul of tools taken in during a weapon sweep. We can see how bad things can get when the rights we take for granted do not exist and, hopefully, learn from the mistakes of others. We can also use these outlandish efforts in Britain as evidence of the slippery slope that gun owners are always afraid of. The slippery slope can be very real. Bans on military-style guns can very easily lead to bans on all semi-automatic rifles, which can very easily lead to bans on all semi-automatic guns, which can lead to bans on—eventually—knives. And maybe even screwdrivers.
It sounds ludicrous, of course. And that is what the banners want us to think. They want us to believe that no one would ever let things slide down a slippery slope even as they grease the way.
We can never compromise on our rights. Not on free speech. Not on searches and privacy. Not of the right to keep and bear arms. There is never an excuse to end up in the place where the citizens of London have arrived.