Instagram Photos Land Knife Retailer in International Hot Water

alien outfitters knives
An example of a concealed knife Alien Outfitters sells. (image via Alien Outfitters)

Instagram is a haven for the knife community (follow BLADE‘s account here), but some accounts are under fire for promoting products legal in one country but illegal in another. 

Take Alien Outfitter’s Instagram account. Based out of the United States, Alien Outfitters sells knives disguised as mundane objects, such as combs or lipstick. When Instagram users in the United Kingdom followed links to order the knives, they could successfully make a purchase. Such knives, however, are banned from import.

Rather than keeping this a customer service issue, some are attacking Instagram itself for hosting the images in the first place.

From The Telegraph:

The Ben Kinsella Trust, a campaigning charity set up in memory of Ben Kinsella, a 16-year-old stabbed to death in Islington a decade ago, said it was appalling that Instagram was helping promote the US company Alien Outfitters.

“Instagram’s action in hosting this site is reprehensible,” said Patrick Green, the charity’s chief executive. “They are glamorising these knives as fashion accessories. This is a forum where young people openly encourage each other to break the law by buying flick knives and concealed knives which are illegal for any age group.”

BLADE does not condone purchasing knives that are illegal in your area. However, it finds that attacking images of knives posted online that are otherwise illegal is as fruitless as it gets. There are thousands upon thousands of knife-related accounts on Instagram. The Internet at large contains millions of blogs, websites and social media accounts depicting knives.

To that end, Instagram is not in the wrong here. Whether the retailer or customer is more at fault isn’t a question I can answer. Oftentimes, stories like these are how the knife community learns about the hard stops in the patchwork of knife laws around the world.


UK Police Find It “Disappointing” Anyone Would Carry a Knife

Policies discouraging knife ownership in the United Kingdom are often cited in the global knife community, but it can be difficult back up their impact with numbers.

Enter the “Bin a Blade” campaign. It solicits unwanted knives from the public using drop boxes, similar to how people in the United States can dispose of prescription meds at police stations. In Suffolk, England, the campaign took in 20,000 knives.

From The Lowestoft Journal:

Likewise, Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore pledged his support to the initiative.

He said: “To see that over 20,000 blades have been collected since the initiative was launched is excellent.

“We need to do all we can through education, peer pressure, policing and sentencing to make it absolutely clear that it’s never acceptable for a person to carry a knife or weapon.

“I find it really disappointing that anyone carries a blade of any kind.”

Reducing crime is a worthy cause, but one questions the efficacy of such amnesty drives. In 2006, when 90,000 knives were turned in as part of a UK-wide amnesty drive, crime rates changed little. 

Further amnesty drives did little to change the upward swing of violence in years since. In England and Wales, last year marked the highest number of crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument since 2011, according to the BBC. Most of these crimes involved robbery or assault.

Although knives remain the instrument of choice for criminals, 77 percent of violent attacks are committed with no weapons at all

As for knives, they account for seven percent of attacks.


Cape Town Water Crisis Impacts Knifemakers

Four million people will be without water in a few months unless conditions change in Cape Town, South Africa. That includes knifemakers living in the area.

BLADE is hearing from the hot knife shops in Cape Town under stress due to water restrictions and related pressures. The impacts include the obvious, such as using leftover shower water to flush toilets, to the lesser known, such as the steep opportunity costs of waiting in line for water. The criminal element is also on the rise as people become more desperate.

BLADE will continue to monitor the feedback from knifemakers in the area, and present opportunities for those outside South Africa to help should they arise.


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