Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Knife Rights And The Rash Of Stabbings In Philadelphia

Broad + Liberty published my piece on knife rights and the recent rash of stabbings in Philadelphia.

You can read the piece via the below link or the below text:

Paul Davis: Knife rights and the rash of stabbings in Philadelphia (

In the 1987 film “The Untouchables,” the late, great actor Sean Connery portrayed a shotgun-wielding tough Chicago cop who faced off against a gangster who, according to the cop, was dumb enough to “bring a knife to a gunfight.”    

But the knife-wielding gangster had a partner armed with a Thompson submachine gun and he mowed down the cop in a hail of bullets. 

Sean Connery won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role, and the film is still popular today, although “The Untouchables” is historically inaccurate about Elliot Ness, Al Capone and the Prohibition Era (as was “The Untouchables” TV series I watched as a kid).

While it is still not advisable to bring a knife to a gunfight, unless you have backup, a knife and other edged weapons can be just as deadly as a firearm.       

Philadelphia in the past few months has seen a rash of stabbings, most notably the two Macy security guards who were attacked last month, one of whom was killed and the other injured seriously. The two guards at the 13th and Market Street store were stabbed by a disgruntled shoplifter who was made to return the stolen items and told to leave the store.

The frustrated shoplifter returned to the store armed with a knife and he stabbed the two guards. A suspect was later arrested.       

Police also arrested a man they believe is responsible for a rash of stabbings in Pennypack Park. According to the Philadelphia Police, the assailant has a machete-style knife tied to his bicycle and without provocation, he has attacked his victims while they traversed the Pennypack Trail. 

And last month, a knife-wielding man in Center City at the Walnut-Locust subway station stabbed three people before he was shot by a SEPTA police officer. (He brought a knife to a gunfight). 

I hope that this series of stabbings, unfortunate as they are, do not result in a surge of calls for “Knife Control.” 

Like firearms, many people carry a knife for self-defense, as well as a useful tool. Only a small percentage of people use their knife to inflict bodily harm, just as only a small percentage of gun owners use their guns for crimes. 

Unfortunately, progressives who want to ban guns also want to ban knives. 

Philadelphia was one city that attempted to criminalize knife-carrying. But a national advocate group known as Knife Rights sued the city. The organization is dedicated to providing knife and edged tool owners an effective voice to influence public policy and to oppose efforts to restrict the right to own, use and carry knives and edged tools.

Back in August, Knife Rights accepted Philadelphia’s offer of judgment in Knife Rights, Inc. v. Outlaw, their federal lawsuit that sought to declare unconstitutional and enjoin Philadelphia’s laws that ban the possession and carry of any bladed arms (knives) in public. The City also agreed to pay $10,000 to cover Knife Rights’ legal expenses.

“We are excited that after the Supreme Court precedent in Bruen, Philadelphia has recognized that its ban on carry and use of knives in public could not pass constitutional muster,” said Knife Rights Chairman, Doug Ritter. “As the premier advocacy organization for the right to possess and carry knives, Knife Rights looks forward to striking down all unconstitutional knife bans throughout the United States.”

John Dillon, an attorney for Knife Rights, added, “It is refreshing when the government, even local government, acknowledges reality and admits they cannot prohibit arms in common use. We will continue our efforts to ensure that cities and states throughout the United States come to the same conclusion. Our rights are not up for debate.”

As Knife Rights noted, in its 2022 NYSRPA v. Bruen decision, “the Supreme Court emphasized that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, applied against states and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment, is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” In 2021, Knife Rights filed an important amicus (friend of the court) brief in the Supreme Court that was cited in the Bruen decision.”

In the United Kingdom, China and Japan, countries I visited while serving in the U.S. Navy, gun control is the law of the land. So, their criminals often resort to using a knife to kill and maim. If one can’t get hold of a gun, a knife will do the job as well if one is determined to cause injury or death. 

But take away all guns and knives, and criminals will use clubs, bats, broken bottles and even cars and vans to kill and injure. 

Paul Davis, a Philadelphia writer and frequent contributor to Broad + Liberty, also contributes to Counterterrorism magazine and writes the “On Crime” column for the Washington Times. He can be reached at

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