In support of new restrictions on the sale of blades in that country, police in Scotland showed footage last week of a pitched battle among a dozen men in a parking lot in Glasgow. Captured on security cameras, the footage reportedly shows two gangs of hooded men brandishing bladed weapons including swords and "giant machetes." The men battle and exchange blows but then flee when police arrive, one group escaping in a Ford Focus. Police said there were no signs that anyone had been injured in the fight.
The report describes this footage as "terrifying," but I'm not sure that word really fits a fight where two groups of unarmored morons whack away at each other for a while, not even managing to injure anybody, and then flee in a Ford Focus. Frankly it sounds a little more like a Benny Hill episode to me.
Still, the video was released in support of new laws that will impose severe restrictions on the sale and possession of blades in Scotland. The rules would reportedly impose a "near total ban on the sale of swords" -- which I guess means you could still get one if you could show you really, really needed a sword -- and would require shops selling blades to be licensed and to record the names and addresses of blade buyers. The rules appear to cover not only swords and machetes (giant, regular, or tiny) but also meat cleavers, hunting knives, and any "non-domestic blades," which appears to mean knives not intended for kitchen use.
As I've always said, when blades are outlawed, only outlaws, people who swordfight in parking lots and anyone with a set of steak knives will have blades.
Other anti-blade measures include tougher sentences for possession of non-domestic blades and a raise in the minimum age for knife purchasing from 16 to 18. Police insisted that the new laws were necessary to crack down on Scotland's "deadly blade culture." Government figures showed that 72 people died from stab wounds last year in Scotland, and I have no idea whether that's a lot, proportionately, and police also said there were another 1300 blade attacks in just one county last year, which does seem like a lot but again I have no idea whether it really is. "Far too many people," said Detective Chief Inspector John Carnochan, "particularly young men, view the carrying of knives as acceptable. We need to get the message [across that] this is absolutely unacceptable in 21st-century Scotland." Actually, I would think the problem is not so much the carrying of the knives as the poking of others with them, but I'm no Detective Chief Inspector.
I would also like to know how much of the deadly blade culture is due to the movie "Highlander," which as you may know involved a bunch of otherwise immortal guys who suddenly and for no clearly explained reason suddenly decided that the last one with a head attached would get to rule the world. I guess they will have to move that competition somewhere other than Scotland, though, now that they will all have to check their blades at the door.