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

6 thoughts on “Paul Davis: Knife rights and the rash of stabbings in Philadelphia”

  1. “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. ”

    This is a seriously laughable statement. Your chance of surviving a knife attack are infinitely higher than a gun attack.

    1. “Infinitely higher”? Wow, what great odds! But, I am certain that a certain spirit of a former security gaurd who was likely to be armed will disagree with your bold statement.

  2. No, your chances of surviving a knife attack are not “infinitely” higher than a a gun attack. Depending on where you are struck by the knife or bullet, your chance of death is roughly the same. Having an artery slashed as against being holed by a bullet and dying is problematic.

  3. The gun control crowd, now the knife control control crowd are hell bent on their mission to further engineer society to a point where it would be unrecognisable to the founders. They not only refuse to acknowledge the source of our ills but seek to obfuscate and hide it from what few reasonable people are left in our society. What we must first do is to demand the dismantling of our public school system as it now exists and replace it with one that is more closely modeled on what we achieved in that realm about 100 years ago. It is possible to deliver a (mostly) secular curriculum imbued with a values system to the broadest public spectrum possible. Ecxept this time, we are vigilant of the Frankford School Marxists who planted themselves here almost 90 years ago and will be ready to stamp out that virus before it has a chance to spread.

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