KEVIN LEININGER: Carnage in London shows killer are smarter than politicians; Did Mayor Tom Henry keep his parking promise?

London police near the scene of a fatal stabbing of an American woman in 2016. A rising murder rate has caused that city's mayor to demand tougher knife-control laws. (AP photo)
Sadiq Khan
Lana Keesling and Tom Henry
Kevin Leininger

Many of the Americans demanding tougher gun-control laws no doubt would like the United States to be more like Europe which, unburdened by the Second Amendment, boasts some of the world’s tightest limits on firearms.

But even though USA Today recently pointed out that “guns are strictly regulated in the United Kingdom” — special permission has been needed even to compete in Olympic shooting competition — the homicide rate in London recently topped New York’s for the first time. It’s a dubious achievement notable both for the weapon of choice and the chilling implications of the government’s response.

With London endured 37 murders in February and March compared to 35 in New York and as of earlier this month England’s capital had experienced 47 homicides — 31 of which (about 66 percent) had been caused by knives. Mayor Sadiq Khan’s response was swift and logical, at least to anyone who believes bad behavior can be addressed by controlling inanimate objects instead of the people who misuse them.

You guessed it: Khan has proposed a tough new “knife control” program.

English law already makes it illegal to carry a knife with a blade longer than three inches in public “without good reason,” and a violation carries a sentence of up to four years and an “unlimited fine.” But Khan, whose city has experienced a 40 percent increase in murders in just three years, wants to do still more. “No excuses,” he said. “There is never a reason to carry a knife.”

With 31 fatal knife attacks this year in his city, one would hope Khan could think of at least one exception. But self-defense is not considered a “good reason,” even though carrying a blade to a museum for exhibition is. That loophole may be good for curators but, clearly, has been of little use to victims.

There has been tragedy as a result, but a certain ironic humor as well. Khan, who once roundly condemned police “stop and frisk” tactics, is now advocating the deployment of 300 additional London officers for that very purpose. Would such an intrusive response be necessary now had government taken corrective action sooner — and not denied citizens their right to self-defense?

London has been an experimental laboratory for the very legislation gun-control advocates have long demanded, and the result (for them and others) is not good. Denied one weapon, those who wish to do harm will simply find another. I’m all for some forms of gun control and universal background checks, but if government can ban anything that can be misused, do we really want to surrender our freedoms to elitist politicians who take it upon themselves to decide what “reasons” to allow for self protection?

Given what has happened in London, does anybody really think Utopia would result even if we did?

A promise kept?

Mayor Tom Henry took away City Clerk Lana Keesling’s parking space two months ago in apparent retaliation for a $100 expired-plate ticket written by one of her parking enforcement officers. But the Democrat Henry relented after Keesling made his decision public, writing to her that “to forego any additional stress I have asked the Deputy Mayor (Karl Bandemer) to contact the building staff to try to accommodate your desire to park in (Citizens Square) . . . Hopefully, this will ease some of the tension that has occurred.”

Henry recently made good on his word. Or did he?

Keesling does indeed have her spot back, but at the same time Henry’s administration took away a second spot in an adjacent parking garage that had been reserved for the clerk’s use even before Keesling took office. A deputy who had been parking there is now paying for her spot, even though some offices — including Henry’s — continue to have two parking spaces.

It’s not a big deal. But Henry voluntarily made a promise and, although he may have technically kept it, this all seems just a bit petty.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.

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