Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tool or Weapon? Who Cares?

The New York Times brings up a topic of marginal interest to many but of great importance to us 19th century fellas. I really can't remember ever leaving the house without a knife, even as a youngster. In fact, a jack knife was a common Christmas present or birthday gift for a boy when and where I grew up. A quality knife was a prized possession and the ability to keep one razor sharp was a talent envied by those who never acquired it. Try butchering a moose with a bad knife. Or doing a good job of sharpening a pencil.

The knife was probably the second tool developed by man, after a primitive stone bludgeon or handle-less hammer. It's only logical that the first knives were chipped from flint many thousands of years ago, before even arrow heads or spear points. Through the centuries improvements in metallurgy were generally initially put to use in edged weapons and tools. Swords evolved over time from the short broad swords of the Greek phalanx to French epees to cavalry sabers. Every advanced culture around the world developed some form of edged weapon. When the victorious continental rebels decided to augment their new constitution with a Bill of Rights, they didn't specify in the second amendment that the right to keep and bear arms was limited to FIREARMS. Firearms in that era were expensive, fragile, unreliable luxuries while edged weapons were arms that were common and available to everyone. Restricting their possession or use would have been considered nonsense then and until the post-war emergence of the nanny state and the spineless acquiescence of the citizenry to futile government efforts to create a risk-free society. Put out that cigarette. Buckle your seat belt.

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