Friday, May 08, 2015


It seems that some of the major news this week revolves around the unfortunate, untimely death of a fellow named Freddie Gray, recently arrested by the city of Baltimore for carrying a knife.  Gray died, riots occurred, police officers were arrested, the prosecutor is being accused of conflicts of interest and other allegations of prosecutorial over-reach.  It's a damned shame on many levels.  First, the idea that carrying a knife poses s a threat worthy of police intervention, second that the law is written so poorly that so many people can misunderstand the law, third that the police charged with enforcing the law have any problem deciding what is legal and what is not.

It is my considered opinion that no man is properly dressed or accoutered without a knife on his person.  The type of knife should be purely a personal choice, but a sharpened bit of steel is very useful in any number of tasks.  Indeed, I am reminded of my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Graham, who not only knew, but counted on the fact that every boy (and most of the girls) in her class carried a pocket knife.

A package would come to the classroom and Mrs Graham would announce "I need to borrow a knife."  Fifteen little boys would begin digging in their pockets and move to the front of the class, holding out knives.  Mrs. Graham would select one, critique the particular knife in question, open the package, then send the child back to his chair.  This, as I recall, was about 1963.  Somehow, in the intervening 50 years we've gotten the idea that a sharpened bit of steel is illegal, nefarious, criminal.

That is a dangerous mindset, because the very idea that a knife might be illegal has led, in this case anyway, to the death of one man, riots causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of property damage, the arrest of six police officers, and allegations of misconduct against an elected prosecutor.  All over a sharpened bit of steel.  My mind boggles at the thought.


Old Grafton said...

I've carried a knife daily since I started school in 1957; the only times I've been without one have been at the behest of various misguided authorities in control of places I absolutely had to be "knifeless", and I do my damndest to avoid those situations/environments. The current state of affairs in England shows the end result of the PSH over cutlery.

6ShotsOr5? said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theother Ryan said...

As a tween and teen in the PNW in the latter part of the 90's and early 00's I carried a knife at school every day. Think it was a Swiss Army knife or maybe my Boy Scout knife (sadly stolen or lost in a move I'd pay $300 to have that $20 knife back). I cut stuff with it during the normal affairs of life.

Teachers and administrators saw and didn't care. It was just a pocket knife.

Old NFO said...

Yep, that was a rite of passage for us. That first knife meant you were trustworthy and the parents believed you could safely carry a pocket knife.

Anonymous said...

I was taught that a gentleman always cut up a piece of fruit before eating it, and a gentleman's knife was REQUIRED for that task.


Theother Ryan said...

Interestingly I realize that I got into at least 2 fights during this period. Oddly the idea to stab the other guy never occurred to me, maybe it is values or social norms or something.

Oddly one of the two situations was witnessed by a teacher. In our gym class an older kid was picking on others. He was a bigger guy (like 6'2 225)and was basically making smaller kids wrestle with him then throwing them around and generally being an asshole. He wasn't any good but he was so much bigger than them it didn't matter. I've never had much tolerance for bullies. He outweighed me by about 50 pounds, but I actually knew what I was doing.

I asked if he wanted to wrestle with me. He said sure. When I asked if the rules were collegiate or submission he should have taken that as a sign.

We did a little standing wrestling stuff then he made a very poor attempt at a shot and I stuck him in a guillotine. I let him go just short of passing out.

After catching his breath the guy talked all kinds of crap about fighting me. I put my hands up and didn't say a word. He kept blustering but didn't get within fifteen feet of me. Probably a good decision on his part as I was splitting my spare time between Ju Jitsu and Muy Thai. I probably would have really hurt him if we fought. The whole thing deescalated without any real violence.

Suppose I told my folks about it but I cannot recall.

A couple weeks later at some sort of event the HS principle told my dad he was very proud of how I handled the whole thing.

I've never liked bullies. Guess it was growing up as a goofy guy with glasses. My answer to those problems (as shown in the example) has always been 'well fight me'.

That being said I am, at least I hope, past the fist fighting stage of life. Not that I am unwilliing but the consequences are bigger and the stakes are stupid.

At this point unless someone tries to physically touch Wifey or my kids it isn't worthwhile. Honestly I'm probably as likely to get in a gun fight as a fist fight at this point.

Anonymous said...

Well said. I have carried every thing from an Arkansas toothpick to a small Buck from about 6 years old. After 9/11 I lost my little Buck and now carry an AG Russell one hand lite weight. Cheap enough if I forget and tsa confiscates..