The battle over laws limiting gun ownership and use is far from over, but Rev. Al Sharpton is already looking ahead toward the next “weapon” he feels should be regulated.
During his radio program last Friday, the MSNBC talk show host responded to a caller who asked: “What happens when the criminal goes to knives, Al?” Sharpton's answer: “Then you deal with knives.”
Before making that pronouncement, the staunch gun control advocate stated:
In any civilized society, you do not see massacres continue to happen, from Tucson to Aurora to Columbine to Virginia Tech to where we are now in Newtown to Chicago, and you keep the same laws when clearly they’re not working.
The caller then pressed the host using the common argument that when guns become too difficult to obtain for even the most determined criminals, they will find other devices of violence, such as knives.
Sharpton replied: “Then you deal with knives.”
The same thing as if you have a head cold and the same thing you do if you have a head cold and the cold is gone and you have a headache. Then you take headache medicine.
“The job of society is to deal with whatever problem confronts it,” he added.
Of course, Sharpton's statement drew sharp words from people across the political spectrum.
Jim Holt of The Gateway Pundit website put it simply: “Oh, good grief!”
Meanwhile, Andrew Kirell from Mediaite stated: “What is particularly specious about this argument is the assumption that simply 'dealing with' weapons via legislation is going to end violent crime associated with that item.”
Just as with illicit drugs, people determined to get their hands on the product will find a way, regardless of the law. The same economics apply to any product forced into a pseudo-black market by government rules.
As a result, Kirell noted that the caller’s instinct “was correct, and Sharpton’s response was quite telling of his faith in government power."
“The follow-up, however, should have been: 'Okay, but after we deal with guns, and then knives, then what?'” the Mediaite columnist continued. “We’ll go all the way down the line until any item used in a flurry of violence is 'dealt with' by government?”
Incidentally, there actually is “knife control” in practice in some states as Eliana Johnson notes at National Review Online. As Johnson observes, Sharpton's remark has a basis in current law.
“There already exists a slew of federal and state legislation that restricts the sale, transport and possession of knives,” she noted.
In Indiana, for example, it is illegal to possess a knife that opens automatically. It is also illegal to carry or a knife, which includes “a dagger, dirk, poniard, stiletto, switchblade, or gravity knife” on school property.
Also commenting on the controversy was Yvette Carnell of KultureKritic.com, who stated that “to demonstrate the absurdity of the gun control argument, you need look no further than Rev. Al Sharpton, whose argument for knife control is to the left wing what the NRA's argument of 'let's put a gun in every school' is to the right wing.”
“What is bothersome about this argument is the assumption that you can deal with society’s problem solely through legislation,” she added. “Legislation is a part of it, and I’m all in favor of sensible gun control laws, but there is a societal, maybe even a cultural problem, in America.”
Or perhaps it is just simply that the media in this country devote enormous amounts of coverage publicizing the lives and philosophies of those who engage in mass violence? Surely the desire for a wider awareness of their grievances is a very strong motivator for many mass killers.
Knife control laws will not solve any problem either. In the UK, there are extremely strict gun laws but that has not stopped violent crime at all, in fact, it has increased. There are also very stringent laws on the sale of sharp objects:
The UK outlawed the switchblade and gravity knife in 1959.
In 1988 possession of a pocket knife with a blade larger than 3 inches in public became illegal.
In 1996, it became illegal to sell a razor blade to anyone under the age of 16.
In 2007, you needed a license to be able to sell “non-domestic knives.”
To be honest, I've been waiting for this issue to come up for a long time. The left’s love of legislation leads us to Kirell’s question: “Then what?”
After removing handguns from the law-abiding people in this country, the next target could very well be knives, or -- given the number of people who die in auto accidents every year – cars.