Box cutters imperil the lives of Americans

Box cutters are a threat to our society. We must ban them now. The typically benign implement became the weapon of choice for the cowards who overtook the four airlines and their innocent passengers Sept. 11. It was the same weapon that was reportedly involved in an attack on a Greyhound bus driver last week. It is time we quell this threat to security.

Our first action must be to treat every box-cutter purchaser as a criminal. First we could have background checks and five-day waiting periods, then licensing; then we could have registration. All of this would be followed by buy-back programs and blade locks. Ultimately would come search and seizure of the implement.

This policy would go for everyone, from the average family man who might want one for personal use to that seedy-looking kid who works as a stock boy at the local Cub Foods, opening cases of Lucky Charms.

It doesn’t matter the vast majority of box-cutter purchasers are innocent individuals; you can never be too sure. It is simpler just to oppress them all. Besides, we don’t own one, so what do we care? It doesn’t matter more people die each year from cigarette smoking and auto accidents. We don’t want to force mandatory licenses on cigarettes or cars that go far faster than any regulated speed limit – after all, that might treat us like criminals.

Restrictions on box cutters must come quickly, while emotions are high, and before a union or an association can be created to protect consumers’ rights. Once the box-cutter-buying public has an association, things just become difficult. Then we would have to go for legislation the legal way, instead of just muscling it through the court system. Such institutions have no place in our society. After all, it isn’t as though we are trying to meddle with a constitutional right or anything.

To help the cause, we could flood the media with movies and television programs full of senseless box-cutter violence. That way, we can ensure the majority of Americans associate box cutters only with violence. There are always plenty of celebrities who can’t wait to condemn the tool they worked so hard to vilify on their path to fame and fortune. News programs could saturate the airwaves with coverage of every single criminal act involving a box cutter. And we could use a portion of the profits from all of this to further our anti-box-cutter crusade. You know what? We could even have a march!

To the average reader, this might all seem strict, perhaps even oppressive. But you have to realize what we are doing is solely for the protection of humanity. We don’t believe human beings are free-thinking individuals. When a dangerous item is placed in their hands and a violent action is subsequently committed, it’s never the individual’s fault. Its always the tool that’s responsible for the deed.

Rather than contemplate the fact the supposedly smartest creature on the planet might actually have some concept of personal responsibility and control over its own actions, we would rather blame an inanimate object, one that would remain forever idle unless handled. This way we don’t have to combat the social problems in our society or work to correct them. Its just easier for us this way.

Did you detect a hint of sarcasm? It is probably as subtle as the anti-gun slant in last week’s First Monday discussion at Lockhart Hall . First Monday is a national campus program that focuses on a new social issue every year and is designed to spur student activism. This year’s session – attended by law and medical students – focused on gun control.

According to presenter and attorney Howard Orenstein, gun violence and gun-related incidents, which account for 30,000 deaths a year, should be viewed in the same manner as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

But why make such a comparison? Why begin by preposterously linking the favorite liberal whipping boy to the worst national tragedy in American history? Never mind the fact guns had nothing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11 in any aspect at all. In fact, since the attacks, armed marshals have undergone training to ride escort on America’s commercial airplanes. Never mind the fact in the eyes of the federal government and the airline industry, we are safer with guns on the planes, rather than without them.

If we are going to go after an item to regulate, why not go after an item that was actually involved in the Sept. 11 tragedies? To some of the more close-minded individuals in our society, it might seem unbelievable that violence is possible without a gun, but it’s true.

Rumor has it there were actually wars, murders and suicides before guns – these acts of violence didn’t just originate with the matchlock. Amazing isn’t it? Human beings are, in fact, capable of independent thought and aren’t turned into violent monsters just at the presence of a weapon in their hands.

If anything, the conclusion to be drawn from Sept. 11 is it isn’t the presence of a gun but the sickness of the individual that determines the potential magnitude of the atrocities.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will forever remain one of the worst catastrophes in American history. There are few analogies we can draw because there is no adequate comparison. The people who died that day deserve to be mourned and remembered with respect. Their deaths should be used as a symbol from which this country can forever draw strength and unity, not as a propaganda tool used to push one’s fervent political agenda.


Chris Schafer’s column appears alternate Wednesdays.
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