Sometimes it’s good to just take a look around and realize how good you’ve got it. A quick look at U.K. knife laws illustrates this point, because most of us barbarian Yanks simply won’t believe the emasculated nanny-state restrictions that our British brethren have to live with. The following (incomplete) list of rules and regulations, taken straight from the www.uk.gov website, will make your head spin. Find a chair, take a deep breath, and make the jump for absolute insanity . . .
As a lawyer and civil libertarian, I am particularly chilled by Big Brother’s helpful comment “A court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry a knife if you’re charged with carrying it illegally.” That surely provides a lot of guidance.
And WTF does Big Brother have against the Japanese, other than Oceania’s long-running squabble with Eurasia? The craziness starts in 3…2…1…go:
Knives: the laws on buying and carrying
The laws about buying and carrying a knife depend on the type of knife, your age and your circumstances
Basic laws on knives
It is illegal to:
- sell a knife of any kind (including cutlery and kitchen knives) to anyone under 18
- carry a knife in public without good reason – unless it’s a knife with a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less, eg a Swiss Army knife
- carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife (the list of banned knives is below)
- use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife, such as a Swiss Army knife)
Lock knives (knives with blades that can be locked when unfolded) are not folding knives, and are illegal to carry in public.
The maximum penalty for an adult carrying a knife is 4 years in prison and a fine of £5,000.
Good reasons for carrying a knife
Examples of good reasons to carry a knife in public can include:
- taking knives you use at work to and from work
- you’re taking knives to a gallery or museum to be exhibited
- the knife is going to be used for theatre, film, televison, historical reenactment or religious purposes (eg the kirpan some Sikhs carry)
A court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry a knife if you’re charged with carrying it illegally.
Knives that are illegal
There is a complete ban on the sale of some knives:
- flick knives (also called ‘switchblades’ or ‘automatic knives’) – where the blade is hidden inside the handle and shoots out when a button is pressed
- butterfly knives – where the blade is hidden inside a handle that splits in two around it, like wings; the handles swing around the blade to open or close it
- disguised knives – eg where the blade is hidden inside a belt buckle or fake mobile phone
- gravity knives
- samurai swords (with some exceptions, including antiques and swords made to traditional methods before 1954)
- hand or foot-claws
- push daggers
- hollow kubotan (cylinder-shaped keychain) holding spikes
- shuriken (also known as ‘death stars’ or ‘throwing stars’)
- kusari-gama (sickle attached to a rope, cord or wire)
- kyoketsu-shoge (hook-knife attached to a rope, cord or wire)
- kusari (weight attached to a rope, cord or wire)
This is not a complete list of banned knives. Contact your local police to check if a knife is illegal or not.
Editor’s note: Thanks, mate!