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Saturday Night Special Samurai Swords:

The Telegraph (UK) reports:

The sale of imitation samurai swords could be banned by the end of the year, the Home Office announced today....

Collectors and martial arts enthusiasts owning or using genuine samurai swords would be exe[mp]t from the ban[.]

According to Home Office estimates, there have been at least 80 serious crimes involving the swords in England and Wales over the last four years.

It is currently legal to buy samurai swords -- which are freely available at martial arts shops and on the internet -- provided they are not brandished in a public place.

The Home Office now wants to ban their sale as part of a wider crackdown on knives and bladed weapons....

Quite similar, in theory and in their problems, to the bans on cheaper "Saturday Night Specials" that allow richer buyers to still get the weapons they want (and thus diminish the political opposition to the bans).

Thanks to Hamline lawprof Joe Olson for the pointer.

JohnAnnArbor:
And what of cheap cricket bats?
3.8.2007 8:31pm
wb (mail):
Does the 2nd amendement protect our right to bear samuri swords in the states?
3.8.2007 8:34pm
fishbane (mail):
Quite similar, in theory and in their problems, to the bans on cheaper "Saturday Night Specials" that allow richer buyers to still get the weapons they want

Also, I think, in line with historic laws that restricted swords to the landed classes, and similar arms control measures of the past.
3.8.2007 8:39pm
R:
According to the article:

"Last month, amphetamine addict Hugh Penrose was jailed for at least 19 years for hacking a 21-year-old woman with a samurai sword and then deliberately running her over."

I'll bet he ran her over in a cheap car. They should ban those too.
3.8.2007 8:49pm
DaveN (mail):
The nanny state strikes again with an imbecilic solution to a fairly rare problem. Now all British gangbangers will merely claim to be martial arts enthusiasts.
3.8.2007 9:04pm
PersonFromPorlock:
So, if average Britons are, in their own government's opinion, so dangerous/irresponsible that they need to be kept away from all weapons, shouldn't they be banned from the US as a public health risk?
3.8.2007 9:21pm
Rick Wilcox (www):
Two questions.

First, how are they going to define "genuine samurai swords"? As a former practitioner of Toyama Ryu Shinkendo, I'm curious to know if this is going to become a collector's/licensed owner's market, or if they're even going to bother with anything resembling accuracy in definitions.

Second, are they going to start requiring that movies be edited so that scenes with "samurai swords" aren't on-screen, like they already do with "chain-sticks" (nunchaku)?

R: What, is the UK going to ban meth next?
3.8.2007 9:24pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
The gangbangers will just have to mimic the Scots, and learn to use a quarterstaff. Banning swords has a long history in England.

wb: I don't see any reason why a sword (katana, epee, foil, saber, longsword, or any other variety) would be any less protected than a firearm.
3.8.2007 9:33pm
Malvolio:
First, how are they going to define "genuine samurai swords"? As a former practitioner of Toyama Ryu Shinkendo, I'm curious to know if this is going to become a collector's/licensed owner's market, or if they're even going to bother with anything resembling accuracy in definitions.
Two words: "assault weapon". The only actual definition was "scary-looking weapon not popular with people who donate to Congressional campaigns", which could easily be adapted to British use.
3.8.2007 9:47pm
R:
Rick:

Only cheap meth. Rich samurais driving Bentleys on prescription diet pills should be able to do whatever they want. :)

I just got a kick out of the example the article gives, as if this character would never have harmed anyone if not for his access to a cheap sword. I wonder if the author wasn't subtly trying to point out the absurdity of the law.
3.8.2007 9:53pm
JB:
When guns are outlawed, outlaws will switch to swords. When swords are outlawed, outlaws will switch to lead pipes.

But politicians will never switch to anything but the easy, pointless solution.
3.8.2007 10:41pm
Syd (mail):
They need to be careful about laws like this, because Hiro needs his sword to focus his powers and without it New York City will fall victim to a exploding man.

On the other hand, he and Ando stole the sword, so I guess it's okay.
3.8.2007 10:50pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Last month, amphetamine addict Hugh Penrose was jailed for at least 19 years for hacking a 21-year-old woman with a samurai sword and then deliberately running her over."

We don't know he ran her over with an automobile. Perhaps he ran over her wearing cheap imitation stomping boots.
3.8.2007 10:52pm
ras (mail):
But if the British Govt didn't ban weapons, it might have to prosecute those who wield them instead. Can't have that.
3.8.2007 11:38pm
anonVCfan:
I saw "Saturday Night" near "Samurai," and it made me think of John Belushi.
3.9.2007 6:55am
Dan Hamilton:
Betfore they baned guns there were a lot of jokes about what would they ban next? Knives and swords? Everybody was saying how foolish that was.

Doesn't look foolish now.

Would anyone really have believed that the British would be at this point?

Just think back to the comments when they were first banning guns.
3.9.2007 9:08am
Gary McGath (www):
anonVCfan: I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought the article would be about the Saturday Night Live Samurai skits.
3.9.2007 9:25am
A.C.:
What do they intend to do about ordinary kitchen knives? Will all meat in Britain have to be cut by licensed butchers before it is sold? And who will take jobs in the government-licensed onion-chopping factory?

Honestly, now, how mean are British people really? I've met some astonishingly rude ones, but are they really too crazed to be trusted with edge tools?
3.9.2007 10:01am
Spartacus (www):
Does anyone have a quick source to some stats about what would seem to be a rise in sword-crime in Britain since accessibility to firearms has been limited?
3.9.2007 10:12am
chaoticgoodnik:
A.C.: it's somewhat tangential, and very anecdotal, but a community I follow was having a discussion on crime with weapons in Britain here.
3.9.2007 11:23am
Robert Schwartz (mail):
Guess, I am going to have to to the junkyard and find some leaf springs to sharpen, also practice my bo staff skills with that length of rebar.
3.9.2007 4:13pm
Jerry Wolff (mail):
Perhaps the Brits should also ban access to internet sites like Atlanta Cutlery and The Collector's Edge where you can purchase collector blades and swords from every time period and continent. You know, no right to keep and bear arms runs hand in hand with no right to communicate freely and engage in "interstate commerce".
3.13.2007 8:11pm