The War on Boys at Wal-Mart, or…

How the Nanny State intimidates businesses into doing law enforcement, even when perfectly legal products are being bought.

Now that Christmas shopping is over, this story can be told. 

Some time ago, my son (then 15) went to Wal-Mart to buy a Swiss Army knife.  A Swiss army knife is a tool that all boys ought to own, and they ought to be able to carry them to school without fear of being suspended.  So he goes to the check out line, and the cashier says that he isn’t allowed to buy it.  You know, it’s a KNIFE, and KNIVES are WEAPONS, and all WEAPONS are BAD.  Especially when a BOY buys it, with his Mom right beside him.

So he gave the money to Jane (aka the Mrs.), and she paid for the Swiss Army Knife.  The cashier looked the other way and said that she didn’t want to see the money changing hands.

We didn’t have the heart to tell the cashier that he was buying the knife as a present for his little sister.

I realize that knives account for about 14% of American murders, but pocket knives are really bad as murder weapons.  First of all, they are not usually very sharp.  Secondly, if you try to hurt someone with them, the blade is likely to close on your finger.   If you are going to kill someone with a knife, you could use a military knife, or a hunting knife, or a long kitchen knife.

This year, my 15 year old daughter went to Wal-Mart to buy a kitchen knife as a Christmas present.  The knife had a 3 1/2 inch blade, so it wasn’t the most deadly thing she could have bought, but it would have made a much better weapon than any pocket knife.  I watched her go through the checkout line, and the cashier did not question the transaction.

Because as you know, a kitchen knife is a TOOL for the kitchen, and it is NOT a weapon, especially if a girl buys it.

Sometime, I’ll see what happens when one of my kids tries to buy spray paint.  Or maybe the folks at FreeRangeKids can start having their kids try to buy stuff that is perfectly legal, but can be misused by some morons, and see how the cashiers respond.  I bet the responses will display many inconsistencies, and will show a pattern of discrimination against boys.


8 thoughts on “The War on Boys at Wal-Mart, or…

  1. Last month, my third daughter turned eleven and she wanted a pocket knife, so we looked around at a couple of places and wound up buying one at Wal-Mart. She picked it out herself and we didn’t get funny looks, but then we paid for it at the front, since I had some more shopping to do when we left the “weapons” counter.

    You know… they keep the spray paint locked up back there, too. That’s so weird. Lowe’s doesn’t keep it locked up.

  2. I like the idea of having Free-Range Kids buying all sorts of stuff that their parents bought without a second thought! — Lenore “Free-Range” Skenazy

  3. Hey Lenore, good to see you here. The blogger is my hubby, and I’m pentamom!

    Ray, you missed a small detail of the story. I paid for the knife out of my own pocket and the clerk said, “I can’t see him give you the money.”

    So after completing the purchase, we walked out of sporting goods, into hardware, where he gave me the money!

    Kelly, at the Walmart here, you can’t pay for it up front, because they kept all the knives in a locked glass case.

  4. Oh, the knives (Grace picked a Winchester Lockback) are in a glass case here, too. We’ve paid for ammo out front, too. I suppose that sort of thing varies by state, which is good, but I’m surprised it’s not federally regulated.

  5. Valerie, I tried to get Joshua to buy a vegetable knife at Target for Jane’s birthday (I think it is a vegetable knife: it’s the one with about a 9″ blade that is very thick, and it looks like the murder weapon in Psycho), but he didn’t want the hassle so I ended up paying for it.

    Kelly, I suspect that at Lowe’s they know that spray paint will be used to, you know, paint stuff. At the local Ghetto-Mart, they might expect the spray paint to be used for graffiti or huffing.

    Lenore, welcome to my blog. I hear lots of good stuff about your blog from Pentamom.

  6. Interesting post! In SA every boy – if he reaches the age about 10-15 – depends [ok, I don’t know now if it is still the case…if I say “every boy” – but when my hubby was little, it was def the case] on family – had to have that knife…it was like a tradition to get a pocket knife. In the UK it is a weapon [ I wanted to put it in capital letters] and wow..that is dangerous and geeee…how can they have it…never! how dare you let your kid (covered in cotton) have that…they will hurt themselves [health and safety!!] and they might just hurt someone else [note…not kill] [or the killers might have more access to it] I’m really sick and tired of a nanny state…where you get told exactly what to do, when to do it, how to do it…i mean….you can’t even think for yourself, they think for you! If it is hot, temps of 26, they announce at the tube stations…”…make sure you take some water with you..” bla bla bla…hey, can adults not think for themselves and know to take water – I can write a very fat book about this “nanny state” we have here… poor kids don’t have a life in this country! In schools so many issues about health and safety and that just because they don’t allow kids/adults to think for themselves!

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