While this week’s emergency ban on the sale of knives and laser pointers may seem abrupt to some, the fact is this was a long time coming and actually should have been in place already.
Nonetheless, it was smart of the Ocean City Mayor and Council to get this law on the books prior to the start of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and it was imperative for it be enacted before the calendar flips to June.
It’s been well documented that last June was a challenging period for the town of Ocean City. With multiple stabbings, a shooting and numerous incidents involving thug-like behavior, the town had to have an aggressive response.
The most significant and costly reaction is the advent of a pro-active camera system on the Boardwalk that will be intensely monitored and should help to stop crime as it’s happening and hopefully even thwart it prior.
Another step in the direction of addressing some of the public safety issues that arose last June was this week’s ban on assisted-opening knives, which have been for sale on the Boardwalk for at least the last few summer seasons.
How many of these have been sold over the years is unknown, but it’s well documented that severe incidents have occurred in Ocean City and surrounding areas involving knives, some of which could surely be traced to the Boardwalk stores selling them.
Furthermore, and this seemed to be the city’s general stance, having these deadly and dangerous weapons for sale steps from the beach is inconsistent with the family image Ocean City wants to portray and must represent and protect to continue to be an attractive draw for visitors.
Additionally, the council outlawed the sale of laser pointers, which have become problematic on several fronts. Most disturbing to us in this discussion was the storeowners’ blatant defiance over the years of the town’s law that required documents, detailing the town’s law forbidding them being shined at individuals or aircraft, be given to customers after they purchase a laser pointer. The merchants were simply not distributing the documentation in yet another obvious sign that a small minority of Boardwalk stores do not operate in a scrupulous fashion and instead are rogue operators.
With the new law now in place, the city would be wise to keep closely monitor the stores that often run afoul of the law. The stores that each summer seem to be in trouble for carrying counterfeit goods and those same shop owners who were selling salvia and drug paraphernalia behind the counter even after they were made illegal by City Hall. Undercover operations will almost surely find illegal merchandise available for purchase at some point later this summer.
While monitoring the adherence to the new sale bans, the city is also in the unenviable position of having to be on the lookout for the next problem products that will cause concern. It’s only a matter of time before these devices are replaced by other concerning merchandise that’s not currently illegal, and it’s a difficult position to be in, but that’s what comes with the territory currently.