| Self-defense laws are contradictory. Our supposed “leaders” love to bellow loudly about respecting Individual Rights and the Constitution of the United States of America while quietly taking away those rights described within it. Like a third-rate magician performing a cheap trick, the modern politician will turn up the music and wave one hand in the air, while the other hand is under the table reaching for the fixed deck of cards.

In the realm of self-defense, the Constitution, which the politician will claim to value, states that “…the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” This is widely accepted to mean that the restrictions regarding the ownership and carrying of firearms are unlawful. True freedom-loving people do and should consider laws discouraging firearms ownership offensive. Today, carrying a gun without government permission is, in most places, a jail-able offense, regardless of whether or not an actual offense has been committed. While this may be unjust, the politicians don’t stop there. In some cities, you may be put in handcuffs and thrown in a cage for carrying an item far, far less dangerous and deadly than a gun…you will be incarcerated for carrying an item that most would never give a second thought about bringing with them during their day’s activities…an item that has many practical uses beyond self-defense. What is this item? A pocketknife.

I know, because I was arrested last spring in New York City for carrying a small folding blade in my pocket. What was my supposed “offense?” Exiting a subway train between work sites, and walking peacefully past a uniformed officer of the NYPD. In the absence of any real threat, the officer only knew I possessed a pocketknife because of the clip of my knife on the outside of my jean’s pocket. When the officer ripped the knife out of my pocket without my permission, I pulled out my phone and began to videotape the interaction (the officer later claimed that he would not have arrested me if I had not recorded our interaction). You can see the interaction here:

Let’s get something straight: I knew and understood the specific New York City laws concerning knives before I carried one, and followed the law under the expectation that I would be protected by the law. I now know better; that all laws are subject to the personal interpretation of the Police and the Courts. The specific portion of the law under which the officer arrested me for criminal possession of a weapon refers to gravity knives. The law states:

“Gravity knife means any knife that has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force which, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever, or other device.”

The knife I was carrying was not a gravity knife by definition, since the blade was tightened to the point where one could not simply “flick” it open, rather one must use the opposing hand to open the blade. While one may argue all day about the specifics of what a gravity knife is, and if my knife was or was not a gravity knife under New York law, it really detracts from understanding the fundamental violation here: that a peaceful, non-violent, non-threatening individual can be thrown in jail for simple possession, not offensive use of, a common pocketknife.

Under this interpretation of New York City law, it is legal to carry a menacing 4-inch fixed blade, but illegal to carry a 1-inch folding blade. It is legal to carry a 3-foot long baseball bat, but illegal to carry a 1-foot long defense baton. It is legal to possess a .50 caliber muzzle-loading rifle without a permit, but it is illegal to possess a .22 caliber rifle without a permit. See the contradictions?

Fortunately, my personal story of arrest ends anticlimactically; I was jailed for 4 hours, fingerprinted, and released. At my court hearing, I was not even called to the stand: I was simply handed a slip of paper informing me that the “The D.A. has decided not to prosecute” my case. Unfortunately for many others, this kind of story does not end as well. Thousands of non-violent people are incarcerated in the United States each day, for non-crimes ranging from carrying a defense weapon to carrying a certain plant.

The anger and frustration that I felt reminds me of the opening scenes of the original “Rambo” movie, where Rambo is stopped by local police for wearing a buck-knife, is taken to jail for no real reason, then proceeds to fight his way out of the jail. While I am not about about to go “Rambo” on anyone, I do want to stress that wrongful imprisonment, even for just a few hours, is a horrible crime for a government to commit against a citizen.

Self-defense is a universal, moral right which the government must take away if is to maintain its power. An un-armed, vulnerable population is easily controlled. Laws that prohibit an individual’s right to carry weapons of defense only give government the excuse to expand its weapons of offense.

In conclusion, I would like to make a statement that may shock some people: Laws don’t matter. Even if the law is perfect, it is enforced by imperfect beings. In my opinion, the greatest mistake of our generation is to think that freedom can be achieved by elections. The thinking goes: if we could only get Politician X into office, things will change for the better. But to elect better people into government office is to snap a twig off the tree of evil without ever striking the root. As long as there is a monopoly on the use of violence, violence will always be widespread. As long as we hand over all the guns to the state; to political rulers and brutal police, we will always be ruled and utterly, tragically, brutalized.

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