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Council Could Ban Some Knives Amid Rise in Stabbings

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By Jorge Casuso

August 17, 2023 -- Less than a month after a man was fatally stabbed on Santa Monica beach, the City Council will take up a law on Tuesday to prohibit openly carrying large blade knives, daggers and swords in public.

The move comes as knife attacks, especially among the homeless, have been on the rise, according to the Santa Monica Police Department and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office, which proposed the ordinance.

In 2020, a knife was used in 52 reported aggravated assaults, according to the report to the Council. That number rose to 71 in 2021 and to 75 last year.

The use of knives as a weapon in robberies has seen a similar rise -- from 20 in 2021 to 38 last year, according to the report from City staff.

The proposed ordinance would deter the "open use of edged weapons in public," give law enforcement a "valuable tool to immediately seize" the weapons and reduce aggravated assaults, according to staff.

"There are many factors that have contributed to the increase in the use of edged weapons, including the ease of obtaining them by individuals of all ages," staff wrote.

Police also have blamed the dangerous mix of legal knives, illegal drugs and lenient State laws for the surge in stabbings, largely among the homeless ("Why Homeless Knife Attacks Have Increased in Santa Monica ," March 16, 2023).

Swiss Army Knife
Samuri swordMachete
Among the knives it is legal to carry in California are (from top left) Swiss army knife, dagger, kukri, machete and Samuri sword.

Under State law, it is legal to own and carry folding pocket knives and fixed blade knives, which include knives used for hunting and tactical combat, Bowie-style blades, daggers, machetes, kukris (a type of short sword) and swords.

The only exceptions are switchblades and automatic knives and ballistic (throwing) knives.

In California, a police officer can only advise an individual openly carrying an edged weapon "of the safety concerns for other members of the public, except in the cases where there is evidence of criminal activity," staff wrote.

There are no City, State or Federal laws that address openly displaying or carrying "fixed blade knives, daggers, swords, sharpened sticks and other edged weapons," according to staff.

This makes it more difficult for police to prevent violent crimes that could "harm residents and visitors" and "can be detrimental to members of the public using the city’s public spaces," staff said.

Knife attacks in Santa Monica have continued this year. There have been six stabbings for which police have issued press releases, one of them fatal.

On January 1, a man was stabbed at The Manor, a residential facility for mentally ill and developmentally disabled adults on Pico Boulevard ("Stabbing Outside Mental Health Facility Furthers Trend," January 13, 2023).

On March 15, a City worker was stabbed by a homeless man he tried to rouse from his sleep in Palisades Park ("Homeless Man Stabs City Worker in Palisades Park," March 16, 2023).

On March 19, two victims were hospitalized with stab wounds after a fight broke out between two groups around 3 a.m. at the northern end of Palisades Park ("Two Stabbed in Early Morning Fight Sunday," March 20, 2023).

On May 27, in separate incidents at the Santa Monica Pier, a homeless man assaulted two women and stabbed two men who came to their defense ("Homeless Man Assaults, Stabs Tourists on Pier," May 30, 2023).

On July 31, in a highly publicized incident, a man was fatally stabbed by a homeless man outside a public restroom on the beach ("Man Fatally Stabbed at Santa Monica Beach," August 1, 2023).

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