Beijing officials went on a city-wide crackdown on illegal weapons on Monday, seizing over 300 guns. (Private firearms are not permitted in China.) But they went further. The following day, Beijing police issued an order instructing supermarkets to take knives off their shelves after two separate stabbing incidents left three people dead and three others injured last week.
A spate of stabbings over the past week has prompted Beijing officials to introduce the ban in hopes of curbing other random attacks. Last week, a mentally ill man from Shandong province stabbed and killed two bystanders in front of a mall in the capital; one of them was an American citizen. Just five days later, a man by the name Wang killed a woman and seriously injured a two-year-old child as well as two other people. According to the Beijing Times, Wang had purchased his knife from the shopping center Carrefour, the location of the attack. Hed had spent five months at a Beijing mental hospital undergoing treatment for an undisclosed illness.
Unfortunately, China’s stabbing cases have become increasingly common. Many times, targets of the attacks are random passersby but targeting school children or schools in general has also happened several times. Earlier this year, Shanghai officials equipped school security guards with pepper spray, protective helmets and rubber clubs in hopes of beefing up security at schools.
The new ban, however, has been met with some hesitation online. “These new restrictions have maybe gone a step too far, will this even be effective? Just because one knife of the several stabbings were purchased in a supermarket doesn’t mean they can’t be bought elsewhere,” one blogger wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform. “I can understand the police departments’ concerns,” Yao Bo, a popular social commentator Yao Bo wrote on his blog. “But what if someone goes into a supermarket and kills someone with a durian [a spiky-skinned fruit popular in Asia]?” he added.
Still, others didn’t protest that ban, noting that safety is the ultimate goal. “I don’t know why people are so mad, it’s not like this ban will last forever,” another blogger wrote. “Let them do the ban (...) we’ll get our precious knives back soon enough.”
The blogger is referring to the city’s past knife rulings, which have not been permanent. This isn’t the first time the city institutes a ban on knife-buying. In 2009, in a similar response to two stabbing incidents, the city temporarily halted the sale of knives. More recently, harsher restrictions on knife buying have been temporarily placed as well. In January of 2012, people looking to buy knives were required to show their official identification cards before purchasing and later in the year, knives were banned ahead of the important 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress meeting.