I’ve been watching this whole “knife control” fiasco going on in Great Britain, and two thoughts come to mind.
First, remember when “knife control” was just a slippery-slope fallacy that lived solely in the minds of extremist gun lovers? Good times, good times.
Second, the upswing of knife violence in the UK is an excellent example of the value of parity of force. This phrase often shows up at the level of the nation state, but that’s not what I’m talking about. It also shows up in a legal context as Proportionality (whether someone’s defensive reaction to violence is excessive or just right), but I’m not talking about that either.
No, I’m talking about parity of force from the criminal’s perspective. Since he’s a not a nation state, he couldn’t care less about that high a level of force, and since he’s a criminal, he’s only mildly interested in the legal aspects.
What the criminal wants is a disparity of force between himself and his target that falls in his favor. Let me repeat that. THE CRIMINAL WANTS A DISPARITY OF FORCE THAT FALLS IN HIS FAVOR. Though the criminal would prefer that the disparity be heavily in his favor, he only needs to ensure a force superior enough to overwhelm his target.
In Great Britain, the criminal is practically assured of this favorable situation. He chooses time and place, the inherent advantage of the Bad Guy. Odds are hugely in his favor that he won’t face a gun (or any distance weapon, for that matter) because law-abiding subjects won’t keep illegal weapons. That means women and children, a clear majority of the population, are easy game. Weak men, too.
But GB doesn’t stop there. British subjects are strongly dissuaded from using knives or other tools to protect themselves. The laws even require the arrest of a 78-year-old man for stabbing his attacker with the attacker’s own weapon (a screwdriver). Fortunately, the investigation determined that the victim—er, man arrested “on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and further arrested on suspicion of murder”—did indeed act in self defense, but he’s been arrested and had to post bond and get a lawyer and had his name publicized by the media and received threats from the dead criminal’s friends (because they know his name and where he lives) and who knows what else. Who wants to go through that?
And so the law abiding who fear jail and/or retaliation have an incentive to roll over, show belly, and hope that their attackers are feeling nice that day.
In fact, it’s not too extreme to say that Great Britain’s weapons laws are a dream come true for Bad Guys. This is the logical end result of limiting weapons in the hands of law-abiding citizens.
I want the criminal to fear the potential disparity of force, not revel in it. This means I want laws that protect my use of distance weapons. Since guns are the best and easiest individual distance weapons out there, the laws must protect my use of guns.
Laws that protect parity of force are a Bad Guy’s nightmare. And that’s one sign of a good law.