There is an exemption from the UK’s draconian knife laws for those in Highland dress. So if you wanted to carry a Scottish claymore down the street in London, just be sure you are wearing your kilt. Apparently there is no such exemption for subjects in their wayward colony of Canada, where a long-time bagpipper has run afoul of the Montreal constabulary for the sgain dubh in his sock.
Jeff McCarthy says for the last 25 years, whenever he is walking the streets of Montreal in his kilt, he also has a Scottish traditional knife protruding from his right sock.
The sgian dubh – a small knife, pronounced skean dhu – is part of the traditional dress and is regarded as a “sign of friendship… and good faith,” he explained.
“It’s never been a problem.”
But McCarthy ran into trouble on his way to play the bagpipes at McGill University’s fall convocation at Place-des-Arts Wednesday.
He was stopped by Montreal police officers and fined $220 for carrying a knife in public.
“I was quite shocked,” he told CBC. “I wasn’t walking down the street waving the knife in a violent manner.”
McCarthy was ticketed under a municipal bylaw that prohibits anyone from carrying a knife or “similar weapon” in a public place or transit vehicle “without a reasonable excuse.”
Call me crazy, but going to a gig as a bagpiper would seem “reasonable” to me. The Mayor of Montreal seems to be in agreement as well.
Asked about the fine, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he does not know about the circumstances, but he questioned whether McCarthy posed a threat.
“It’s up to [the police],” said Coderre. “But maybe they should show some judgment, too.”
I had a more “reasonable” intereaction with security personel at the Rio when I inadvertently brought mine onto the casino-floor on my wedding night.
I need to pull together a “Know your Knives” post on the sgian dubh. I have actually commissioned Will Woods to design and make me his interpretation of the style. I have approved the design, but Will got clobbered by Hurricane Matthew down in Georgia, and it will be a while until his shop is up and running again.