On July 23rd, after two deadly random-stabbing attacks in the previous week, Beijing officials ordered supermarkets to stop selling knives. Police also cracked down on street weapons, confiscating over a thousand knives and over 300 firearms. In a megacity of 20 million people, these measures will have precisely zero effect on public safety.
The Chinese Communist Party has been cribbing pages from the civilian disarmament wish-list of Barack Obama and Michael Bloomberg, who in turn wish for the dictatorial powers of their Chinese brethren.
The individual shown above, identified only as a Beijing resident with the surname Wang, stabbed four people at a Beijing supermarket.
From the South China Daily News:
Netizens have already ridiculed the move as ineffectual. “I can understand the police departments’ concerns,” social commentator Yao Bo wrote in a Sina Weibo post. “But what if someone goes into a supermarket and kills someone with a Durian?”
Around January, shops received orders to require customers to register with their real names if they bought knives, customers noted online. Netizens have ridiculed the move as ineffectual.
Beijing authorities have so far only on paper enforced provisional regulations requiring the registration of knives. These date back to 1983. The carrying of knives can be punished with adminstrative detention of up to 15 days and a fine of up to 200 yuan.
This took place just days after another Beijing man stabbed and killed two passersby in a similar attack, and only two months after six children and a woman were injured in a mass stabbing in the southern coastal city of Maoming.
All of these attackers are reported to have been seriously mentally ill. Mr. Wang, above, had just been released from five months of treatment for an unspecified mental illness.
In China, as in the United States (and Norway and Scotland, and everywhere else) the problem isn’t knives or guns: it’s crazies. Instead of identifying and treating (or at least isolating) the crazies, governments continually seek to exploit these tragedies in order to gain more control over their subjects. Every time a crazy person acts crazy, our governments tell us, we should give up just a little bit more of our freedoms.
Beijing has notoriously little regard for freedom, and has actually required knife-purchaser registration since January 2012 although enforcement has been extremely lax until now.
All of this is, of course, nothing but Feel-Good Security Theater. Banning knife sales at grocery stores will only force people to buy them at hardware stores, and banning knife sales completely will just force people to steal them from restaurants.
At least until Beijing bans the use of knives at restaurants too.