Boston City Council Holds
Gun Knife Control Hearing
11/15/11 Update: Knife Ordinance Hearing Alert
As you may know, on September 8, 2011 the Boston City Council conducted a hearing on the knife ordinance that would require vendors to obtain a license to sell knives. At that time, they had a rough draft of the language, and no action was taken.
GOAL has obtained a copy of the City Council’s newest version of this ordinance, 16-39.4 License Requirements for Stores Selling Certain Knives and we urge all of our members to attend the next public hearing on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 11:00 am in the Iannella Chamber on the fifth floor of Boston City Hall.
As there are already ordinances regarding knife sales within city limits and sales of knives to minors, we see no need for yet another license. Again, this is an attack on the law abiding citizen, and not the criminal element responsible for knife related violence. We have an opportunity to make sure that history does not repeat itself.
We have an unusual advantage in this case to know what the future will bring if this path of knife control is allowed to be built. If the current path is followed we know without any doubt that citizen’s rights will be trampled.
As reported last month there is a proposal to create a Boston City ordinance to license knife vendors. This effort is being spearheaded by Boston City Councilman Michael Ross As of this writing we have not seen any language for the proposed ordinance. It will be interesting to see how the City will try to sell the need for this ordinance, as the City already bans the sale of knives over two inches long to anyone under eighteen and actually bans the possession of any knife over two and a half inches.
GOAL will be watching this issue closely and will alert our members when and if actual language is proposed.
Boston City Ordinance 16-39.1 “Prohibition of Sale of Dangerous Instruments”
No person shall sell, give or deliver to any person under eighteen (18) years of age (hereinafter referred to as “minor”) any of the following: a. Knife having a blade with a length of two (2") inches or more; b. Ice pick or similar implement having a metal pointed shaft and handle; c. Straight edged razor or razor blade fitted with a handle. Transient vendors, peddlers or hawkers, as defined in Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 101 (licensed or unlicensed) are prohibited from selling the above listed dangerous instruments in the City. (Ord. 1997 c. 9 § 1; Ord. 2001 c. 1) Penalty, see subsection 16-39.2
Boston City Ordinance 16-45.1 “Carrying of Weapons Prohibited”
No person, except as provided by law, shall carry on his person, or carry under his control in a vehicle, any knife having any type of blade in excess of two and one-half (2½ ) inches, ice picks, dirks or similar weapons that are likely to penetrate through police officer's ballistic vests, or other object or tool so redesigned, fashioned, prepared or treated that the same may be used to inflict bodily harm or injury to another, except: a. When actually engaged in hunting or fishing or any employment, trade or lawful recreational or culinary activity which customarily involves the carrying or use of any type of knife, or b. In going directly to and/or returning directly from such activities, or c. If the knife is being transported directly to or from a place of purchase, sharpening, or repair, and if packaged in such a manner as not to allow easy access to the knife while it is being transported. No person, except as provided by law, shall carry on his person, or carry under his control in a vehicle, a machete. For purposes of this section, "machete" means a heavy knife at least eighteen (18) inches in length and having a blade at least one and one-half (1.5) inches wide at its broadest
On Thursday, September 08, 2011 the Public Safety Committee of the Boston City Council held a public hearing concerning the potential licensing of businesses that sell knives.
According to the supporters of the proposed license the action is needed as a means to address the ever increasing knife violence in Boston. The knife hearing today was reminiscent of the infamous gun control hearings back in the 90s. One would have sworn they were transported back in time, or perhaps to a parallel universe. To the right were politicians firm in their conviction that action must be taken. To the left were the grieving parents and their genuine heart wrenching stories of lost loved ones. In the middle were public safety officials looking trapped, but offering supportive testimony for the proposal. The only difference between this hearing and the many that took place a decade ago was that the word “guns” was replaced with knives”.
The testimony and statements heard during the public hearing were frighteningly reminiscent of past gun control hearings. “Why would we allow any corner store to sell these dangerous weapons (knives).” “Selling knives does not support families.” “We must do everything we can to restrict access to these dangerous weapons.” “Why would anyone need a knife with a blade more than two inches long.” Knives are fine if you need them for work, but employers should require they be left on the job.”
Sound familiar? To anyone who has been involved in the Second Amendment battle in the last few decades it sends a shiver up your spine because this is exactly how gun control efforts were initiated. To make matters worse, during the hearing, law enforcement officials testified that the modern way of approaching these issues is to go after the source of the items rather than the criminals themselves.
Jim Wallace, Executive Director of Gun Owners’ Action League, attended the public hearing and was allowed to provide oral testimony. During his testimony he urged the City Council to take careful and meaningful steps in addressing the problem of violent crime. He reminded the councilor’s that this is exactly how the gun control laws started and what a complete failure they have been in every way. “I urge the City Council to review what it is about to do and reflect on the failures of gun control,” said Jim Wallace. “Over a decade ago I had to testify before committees in the state house with grieving families in the background, now I sit before you a decade later with grieving families behind me again. If you proceed down this path and get it wrong again, ten years from now we will likely repeat this scene yet again.”
Wallace also reminded the councilors that stores and businesses are already licensed/permitted to operate within the city limits. There is also already a local ordinance concerning the sale of knives to minors. With this system already in place why does the city need to develop another licensing system that would be run by the city police? As parents, should we not want the police on the street dealing with crime and allow the permitting agencies to deal with the retailers.
The City Council took no action on the matter during the hearing. It is likely that it will be some weeks before a draft ordinance is presented to the City Council as a whole. In the meantime, perhaps we have an opportunity to make sure that history does not repeat itself. We have an unusual advantage in this case to know what the future will bring if this path of knife control is allowed to be built. If the current path is followed we know without any doubt that citizen’s rights will be trampled. Most certainly grieving families will be burying love ones because politicians would rather go after the source of the item rather than the human criminal element – the source of the crime.
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