Sunday, February 22, 2015

This Is Sworda Ridiculous

A NY state senator wants to ban machetes (h/t SayUncle). The article itself as well as the concept behind it are fisk-worthy.

The article mentions a "Queens pol" which shows support for a ban of machetes after "several recent attacks". No link was given for the alleged poll and the article mentions two altercations involving machetes, one of which was possible self defense. The other resulted from an "argument" and was not fatal.

The article leans heavily on the tale of a mother whose 17 year old son was killed by someone with a machete. (That someone claims it was self defense, but I could find no further updates on the situation.) The article tries to paint the picture that - well I'll let the quote speak for itself:

“I didn’t even know it was possible to buy a machete online,' Terrance’s mother, Greta Price, told the Daily News. 'I had no idea that it wasn’t considered a deadly weapon. It should be.”

Machetes as well as other dangerous implements have been available in hardware stores since I was old enough to remember. They're also for sale at Wal-Marts and many sporting goods stores. It's conceivable their online sale was unnoticed, but only if one assumed that no one would wait for such a common item to be shipped when it was much quicker and just as economical to buy one from the store down the street.

"Price said she visits her son’s grave two to three times each week, adding, 'He’d still be alive today if it wasn’t for a machete.

Blaming an object instead of a person is a common theme amongst progressives. Her son died as a result of a person's actions, not because of an object. As I noted above I could not find any further updates on the situation, beyond the accused's initial arrest and charge for 2nd degree murder. I do not know if this means charges were dropped or legal proceedings have continued and the press just didn't bother to report it. Whatever the circumstance her son died as a result of someone's actions. A kitchen knife could have produced the same result, and hundreds of people each year are beaten to death without aid of any sort of weapon.

But let's move on to the concerned public servant behind the proposed legislative effort to make the world safe:

"State Sen. Tony Avella plans to introduce a bill to ban the possession of the scary blades in New York. 'The fact that anyone can easily purchase this potentially lethal tool is just crazy,' he said."

Just crazy he says? The fellow who voted to ban boxes with springs in such a way that you could have a ten round magazine but could only load 7 cartridges in it says that buying machetes is "just crazy"? Yet banning a generic class of agricultural implement is somehow sane? I'd almost think this was an attempt to trigger some mental health based prohibition on gun ownership ("Have you ever purchased a machete? If so, the State of New York has determined you are psychologically unstable and you may not possess a firearm") though I'm not sure they'd be that clever. that devious and convoluted, yes. that clever? Notsomuch. But note how the article describes machetes as "scary". Emotion, and not the good kind of emotion, is prevalent throughout the article in an attempt to trump logic. Sadly this has worked too often in the past.

So let's leave emotion behind for a moment and look at the facts, starting with NY's law.
A site called has a page on NY's laws concerning bladed implements. There seems to be no prohibition, or even applicable definition of "machete" in New York law, nor are there any restrictions on carrying most knives (dirks, daggers and stilettos are a trickier matter) concealed or openly (though local laws are likely stricter).. Also I cannot find any prohibition against owning or possessing swords (though "cane swords" are mentioned they are a distinct sub type of sword and would not implicate swords in general).

The wikipedia entry on machetes lists their length from 12.8" to 17.7" long, though this is not a definitive rule.

Here's Cold Steel's machete page. There are one and two handed models with blade lengths varying from 11.25" to 24'. Prices range from $19 to $70 and some models are patterned after widely known types of blades (katana, bowie knife, gladius, kopis etc.).

Aside from being affordably priced (Cold Steel is representative of the market, though I've seen some machetes as cheap as $6 at Wal-Mart) they're just not that hard to make. To make a magazine (which NY bans if it holds more than 10 rounds) you need some steel, a spring, a hammer and a wooden block. To make a machete you need some steel, a hammer and fire, or some steel and a grinder (just ask this guy). With a little more effort you can make a sword, which in some cases isn't any different from a machete to begin with (for example the cutlass was for all intents a machete in parts of the Caribbean as it was used chiefly in agriculture, and there's no real line to fix a point where a blader stops being a machete and starts being a sword).

As Tam noted in this post of hers (which was in reply to this tweet from Rob Allen) if both a minor and a major tool are illegal then nothing is lost by manufacturing the major tool, and both Tam and Rob point out that making something as complex as a firearm is within the capabilities of many Americans who have a garage and a few tools.

It is entirely possibly, given the typical inability of a NY politician to grasp anything as technically oriented as tying their own shoes, that this publicly funded imbecile will craft his bill in such a way that swords are still legal while machetes would be verboten (in which case many of the machetes and almost all of the swords that Cold Steel offers would be available for purchase). It is also possible, through sheer incompetence that he will make common kitchen knives illegal as well as swords and machetes.

Of course, any such actions would be contrary to the 2nd amendment. Joe Huffman quotes David Hackett Fischer:

"As late as 1733 gentlemen of Virginia were said to be naked when they went in public without their swords. They appear not to have gone naked in this sense very often."

And there's this oldie but goodie from Tench Coxe as it appeared in the February 20th, 1788 edition of The Pennsylvania Gazette:

"The power of the sword, say the minority..., is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for The powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of Americans. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but where, I trust in God, it will always remain, in the hands of the people."

Now ol' Tenche was not just speaking of swords literally - he at times used the phrase "the power of the sword" as a euphemism for military might. But towards the end he did mean swords as a material object, not just an abstract concept. I would note that he did not only mention congress as being powerless to enact weapons prohibitions, but the states as well.

Any court worth the price of those little non-utilitarian hammers would have no hesitation in striking down a ban on machetes whether or not it also covered kitchen knives and swords. Sadly, many courts are not worth the market price of a gavel these days, so hopefully the rest of NY's legislature won't be so daft as to give this hoplophobic petty tyrant in-training any consideration as he howls that blades must be banned or fires extinguished or whatever nonsense he comes up with to make page 14C of the Daily News.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems that the moron has watched one too many zombie movies.