After publicly musing about the idea of a complete ban on the sale of knives, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel admitted on Wednesday he may have overreacted.
Still, Mandel formally asked city staff at Wednesday's council meeting to look at what the city can do to reduce knife violence in Edmonton.
"Logistically, we might not be able to ban knives," Mandel told reporters. "That might not be feasible, given that some people have steak knives in their boots. But at the same time, we can find ways to prohibit knives [going] into bars. We can give the police … greater search rights when it comes to knives."
Two young men have died in fatal stabbings in Edmonton since Thursday. One stabbing occurred outside a nightclub in the west end.
One of the options Mandel suggested the city could look at is putting metal detectors at the doors of nightclubs.
A knife ban would be impossible to enforce and would do little to reduce stabbings in Edmonton, a veteran police detective said earlier on Wednesday.
"There's no way you can get rid of every knife that we have in this city," Edmonton Police Det. Bill Clark, a 30-year veteran of the force said Wednesday on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "Butter knives can kill people. Steak knives can kill people."
The problem of knife violence is too complex to fix with a ban, Clark said.
"All the mayor can do is possibly put out a bylaw," he said. "What's that going to do? You're going to give someone a fine? I mean that's a joke. They're just going to laugh."
The courts need to get tougher on knife offences, Clark said.
"We have a mandatory four-year minimum sentence if you use a firearm in an offence," he said. "So why aren't we looking at the same thing with knives?"
Alberta Justice Minister Alison Redford agreed more needs to be done to curb violence in Edmonton. While she was uncertain what effect a ban would have, she said it was an idea worth investigating.
Give police extra authority
"We have some very good lawyers in Justice who look at a lot of these options, and I'd like to ask them that specific question," Redford said.
The province will be introducing a bill this spring to give police more specific powers allowing them to work with bar owners to identify troublemakers and remove them from the premises.
"It's not that the police can't do that now, but as the mayor said, we have situations where questions of cause come into it," Redford said.
"As part of the business of regulating a business of bars, we think that its important to give police extra authority to be able to intervene in situations."
Redford says this plan is modeled after a bar watch program developed in Vancouver.
She is also lobbying the federal government to toughen bail laws so judges can keep people in custody longer, particularly in cases where someone breaches a previous bail condition.
"So they've now demonstrated that they are not prepared to honour a court order," she said.
"We believe that the onus should then be on them to prove why the court should ever allow them out on bail again."
There have been six homicides in Edmonton so far in 2009. Half the deaths resulted from knife wounds.