EVERY summer, in the Cambridge suburb of Romsey Town, a man emerges from his house dressed from head to foot in black and clutching a katana, a curved Japanese sword. Fortunately for his neighbours, the target of his ire is the weeds that have grown up in his garden. Half an hour later, the undergrowth reduced to stalks, he goes back inside.
Not everyone is so harmlessly eccentric. On December 10th a man appeared at an Inverness court charged with attempting murder with a similar weapon. On the same day, to much fanfare, the Home Office said it would add “samurai swords” to a list of exotic-sounding proscribed weapons. These include butterfly knives, blowpipes and shuriken (throwing stars). It is already illegal to carry bladed weapons; adding the swords to the list will make it illegal to import or sell them.
In any case, the precedents for a ban are not encouraging: gun crime has risen dramatically since legislation following the Dunblane massacre in 1996 made handguns of all kinds illegal. The sword ban is less swingeing, since exceptions will be made for martial-arts clubs and collectors. And it seems oddly specific: only “single-edged, curved blades” will be prohibited, leaving straight-bladed or double-edged weapons untouched.
James has written a post on the subject.