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#23417 - 01/19/04 03:36 AM Knife possesion in the 21st century!
bountyhunter Offline

Registered: 11/14/03
Posts: 1224
Loc: Milwaukee, WI USA
The thread about fire starting got me to thinking about the public's view on knife possession.

Way, way back when I was a kid, we all had knives. Penknives, pocket knives, small fixed blade knives, and we carried them everwhere; in schools, banks, Government buildings, post offices, police stations, and friends houses. Nobody thought anything bad about it unless it was one of those "Gangster" style Italian switchblades which were outlawed from import to the USA in 1956.

Today, if a youngster were to carry a small penknife, they are immediately branded as strange, after all, why does a child carry a knife if he/she is not out to hurt someone? I still carry a 3" or smaller (due to State of Wisconsin laws about blade size.) bladed knife everywhere but places where they have metal detectors, and I have yet to turn into an American "Jack the ripper".

My biggest use for my knives over the entire length of my life so far is to clean my fingernails, strip wire, cut string, and make toothpicks when I don't have one handy.

We can be as innocent as newborn babies, but we have to change our current societies perceptions about certain activities and habits, or we will all be guilty by default.

It is tough being a youngster today who wants to learn and possess practical items that society has deemed are anti-social simply by their possesion.


#23418 - 01/19/04 05:05 AM Re: Knife possesion in the 21st century!
Nomad Offline

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 479
Loc: Just wandering around.
I also have been carrying a knife all of my life. And at age 65, I just can’t seem to give up the habit. The problem is that we are nomads. Sometimes we are in California, sometimes in Maine and everywhere in between.

I keep a leatherman on my belt most of the time. I get weird stares when I cut string at Home Depot (it is a TOOL folks!). But I also keep rather larger knife tools in my backpack. And Sometimes I forget what I have where.

For instance I was about to enter a museum in Chicago, after living in the desert for a few months. As usual, as we began our walk, I grabbed the pack from behind the seat. It is an automatic motion, I hardly think about it. Besides the extra water, a few MRE’s and such, there is a Becker BK-10 and a Benchmade folder. It was only as I entered the large museum doors and was confronted with the stern looking security guy with his metal detector did I even think about the knives, but then I broke into a sweat.

Fortunately for me, there was a baggage check system before the security check and I quietly checked all my “dangerous weapons” (including the leatherman) before being wanded by the security guy.

The world is different place. And I for one am having a bit of a problem with it all. People can’t start fires; they shy away from any knife sharper than the one they use to butter their bread. And guns…. Well you must be some sort of nut if you possess a gun, much less carry one.

As we left Maine in ’97 at the beginning of our wandering, I noticed the fences along the interstates. To keep the animals off the road I was told. Then I noticed fences were everywhere. Especially at routes would use to escape to the woods. All the roads were blocked and it was beginning to be difficult to leave the populated areas. I began to feel like a dog in a kennel. A big kennel, but a kennel, never the less.

So we have made a quest out of finding places that are not under the stringent control of those that must take care of us. It is harder and harder to find such places. We manage to dig our way under the fence, and run wild a bit, but …. Well we seem to always find another fence in our way.

Now the fences are becoming less tangible, but with the same effect. They stop us from being responsible for our own safety, they make us more dependent on those who must take care of us.

Most of the older civilized world has a much stricter policy than ours. I understand the in England and most of Europe, carrying a knife like my BK-10, or Benchmade would be a serious mistake. I fear we are traveling the same road. And I am stumbling a bit as I make my way.

I guess if you never had the freedom, you don’t miss it.

As a teenager, I could blow a stump with dynamite, I could operate heavy equipment, I could ride a horse by myself for long distances in remote areas. We all did that sort of thing, (Male and female I might add), And sometimes we got seriously hurt. But we did what we did and nobody said we could not.

If you did have the freedom, …..then you miss it terribly.

So it is not just the knife in this modern world, it is the whole tightening of the system about our freedom. It is being done by well meaning people who are afraid of each other. I guess I can’t find fault with being afraid, I have had many moments of terror in my life. They have to do what they have to do. But so do I, and that is where the problem begins.

...........From Nomad.........Been "on the road" since '97

#23419 - 01/19/04 05:02 PM Re: Knife possesion in the 21st century!
ToddG Offline

Registered: 03/07/01
Posts: 51
Loc: Boston, MA
Amen Bountyhunter,

I am 36, and have been carrying a pocket knife for as long as I can remember. I still have memories of the day my dad bought me my first real pocket knife. I was probably 11 or 12 and it was sort of a coming of age thing. It was my dad’s way of telling me that I was old enough to be trusted.
I have carried a knife of varying size, shape and use every day of my life since then, After dressing it is the first thing that goes into my pocket.
These days it is difficult. I have had to check my knife at a museum in CA and the Empire State Bldg in NY. I carry a Chris Reeve Sm Sebenza now and since it was not what one would call a cheap knife I have even needed to cancel plans and leave a place when I realized that they had no way to check my blade and simply expected to confiscate it.
I don’t know, I have a hard time imagining myself with out a knife in my pocket but it feels more and more like a dying practice.
The best way out is always through.<br>-Robert Frost

#23420 - 01/19/04 05:47 PM Re: Knife possesion in the 21st century!
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2847
I worked as a bag boy for a big store while going through college. One night the lead cashier asked me to help him load a large item and tie it to the top of their car (people should drive trucks not cars, but thats a different topic). Once we tied it on the car and wrapped some string around it he started trying to cut the string with office type scissors and wasn't making much progress. I pulled put my little 2" pocket knife and easily cut the string. Once the customer the lead told me if he saw it again he would tell security I was carrying a weapon. I couldn't get it throught his head that it was a tool not a weapon. Had similar experience with my leatherman, used to use it all the time to fix printers but every now and then some secretary would pull back in fear because they saw a shiny pair of pair of pliers. My wife grew up in the city where they didn't normally carry guns and knives unless you were a gang member. She was afraid at first but now carries her own leatherman micra after borrowing my wave so many times. She still thinks if you have a gun in your house it means someone will auomatically break in and use your gun against you so I still have some educating to do.

#23421 - 01/19/04 06:05 PM Re: Knife possesion in the 21st century!
Craig Offline

Registered: 11/13/01
Posts: 1784
Loc: Collegeville, PA, USA
We went to an even in Center City. We were informed by large signs that we were surrendering all rights by entering. No one seemed to care. We were frisked and wanded.

My Vic MiniChamp caused a great deal of consternation. I was scolded by one the women pawing through my private belongings. Afterwards, when I attempted to complain about this to the family members I was with, I was unsympathetically told I should have known better. Why would I need a knife in Center City? I simply shut up.

[begin sarcasm] Indeed, why would anyone need a knife in a big city. God knows nothing ever happens in a city and we are all safe as houses.[end sarcasm]

I don't attend many events anymore. In my mind, the terrorists of 9/11 have succeeded. They have instilled terror in our society that will easily last a generation or more.

#23422 - 01/19/04 08:46 PM Re: Knife possesion in the 21st century!
M_a_x Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 1113
Loc: Germany
As a side effect from increasing population people are more inclined to do physical violence. Because it´s not socially acceptable they refrain from doing so. Hence they assume that a person who carries a blade is more likely to act violently . It´s not easy to change the perception of the society under those conditions.
I usually carry a Buck Crosslock in a pouch on my belt. I don´t care too much about other people´s reactions to that. I don´t go to events where the audience can´t be trusted to carry a pocket knife and let people know about that. Data supports that attitude. You can frequently read about fights at events where people are not allowed to bring a blade but you don´t get news from fights at events where virtually everyone carries a knife. When you take in account that there is a bias against knives that´s even more revealing.
If it isn´t broken, it doesn´t have enough features yet.

#23423 - 01/20/04 12:43 AM Re: Knife possesion in the 21st century!

There's so much I could say in this thread that I don't know where to start.

I've been a confirmed "knife nut" since I was about seven years old that I can remember... and that was a long time ago. I can tell you for sure that we are born, not raised- my mother has always abhorred anything remotely weapon-like, my father was not an outdoorsman by any means (both my grandfathers were, but I barely knew them), and never owned a gun or a "real" knife to my knowledge. I had no older siblings, so I became a knife nut, a camper, a backpacker, and eventually a shooter with no family guidance or encouragement at all- quite the contrary.

When I was too young to undestand the value of discretion ("camouflage") the knives got me in trouble more than once... in later years, they got me out of worse trouble more than once.

Unlike some, I've always understood, even as a child, that a knife is potentially a weapon as well as a tool, and I make no apologies for carrying one with that in mind. I've been a responsible armed citizen for enough decades now that I'm tired of trying to justify it to those who will never understand. The idea that the need to defend yourself, and your loved ones, can be legislated out of existence is just ludicrous... it's as basic as life itself. However, in today's society (especially here in the suburbs of a major city), I would not consider revealing a larger-than-tiny knife to cut string or open a box in public... IMHO, that's asking for trouble in today's PC America. I carry a Leatherman Micra, or a Vic classic or similar, just so that I will never have to reveal what else I may have on my person for so trivial a purpose.

For some reason, though I have a LOT of knives, I've been on something of an axe/hatchet kick recently, and an article I came across on that subject mentioned that there are many, many fewer laws about carrying hatchets and tomahawks than there are about knives- an interesting thought, expecially since there are some very sweet small hatchets out there that can do most things a knife can, and, in wooded areas, maybe more.

One parting point- those "knife nuts" out there who are also interested in survival, but have never read Robert A. Heinlein's "Tunnel in the Sky", are missing a real treat. It's one of his "juvenile" novels, but in Heinlein's case that doesn't imply condescension- his "juvenile" characters are as competent as his adults. The story is based around a high-school survival course's final exam, set in the future, and may have been written partly as a rebuttal to Fielding's "Lord of the Flies". It's one of my favorite novels, and may be my all-time favorite "survival" novel. Yes, I've read some of Gary Paulsen's books. This is better.

#23424 - 01/20/04 02:47 AM Re: Knife possesion in the 21st century!
bountyhunter Offline

Registered: 11/14/03
Posts: 1224
Loc: Milwaukee, WI USA
Presumed Lost:

I read the same Heinlien book, and I recall its name as "Gateway to the Stars".

I am currently 57 years old, and I wonder if they changed the name before I read it or before you read it.

I like the rationalization that the main characters older sister gave him reqarding weaponery for his final exam.

It is a great book, but I did not like anything Heinlien wrote after the adult sex adventures started interfereing with the science fiction in his books.


#23425 - 01/20/04 03:07 AM Re: Knife possesion in the 21st century!
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2847
I don't feel 9-11 was the cause of all the fear of tools <img src="images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> My knife incidents were all pre 9-11. 9-11 was another symptom of the problem, i.e. is people were not afraid of a small sharp object then the terrorists would not have been successful.

#23426 - 01/20/04 10:47 AM Re: Knife possesion in the 21st century!


Well, I don't remember ever seeing it by that name. I have a copy that dates from the '60s, and it's still in print as "Tunnel" (although with a spectacularly stupid cover illustration):

Amazon link

I remember Rod's lesson from his sister well, I even have it stored in my Palm, along with some of Deacon Matson's advice.

I know what you mean about some of the later writing. Heinlein went through some very distinct "periods" in his work, and some of it was just bad, sorry to say. People who get exposed to that writing first tend to dismiss him entirely. Without going into detail, there were apparently health reasons for the changes, and there are exceptions. Within "Time Enough for Love", aside from the immortal "Notebooks of Lazarus Long" that get quoted every day, there is "Dora's Song", which is a fascinating and fairly detailed study of pioneering and wilderness survival. And, of course, there's "Farnham's Freehold". Even such little-recognized writings as "Farmer in the Sky", "Red Planet" and "Coventry" had strong survival themes.

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